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About that salary cap problem…

October 27, 2010

We all bear a cross. Peter Chiarelli bears the Bruins debt.

As the Bruins inch closer to winter and the heart of the NHL season, they are also quietly inching towards the inevitable return of Marco Sturm and, at some point, Marc Savard. While this will certainly improve the team’s roster, it leaves Peter Chiarelli with a very large problem, the salary cap.

According to the wonderful website CapGeek the Bruins are $1.85 under the cap thanks to LTIR cap space which allows the Bruins to essentially take off injured players salaries while they are on the LTIR list. However, once those players come off of injured reserve, their salaries re-enter the Bruins salary, which at this point would put them anywhere between $4 million and $7.5 million over the cap.

Marco Sturm’s $3.5 million and Marc Savard’s $4 million are getting closer to returning to the Bruins lineup. Both players skated for the first time yesterday with Sturm gunning to return by mid to late November and Savard’s timetable a lot more loosely scripted.

So how can the Bruins avoid a New Jersey Devils type situation? Well they have to make a move one way or the other. The obvious options are to cut the fat by trade or demotion. Peter Chiarelli was seen at Monday’s Canadiens-Coyotes game which kicked the wheels of speculation into motion.

From CSNNE:

Several hockey sources indicated to CSNNE.com that the Bruins are in the beginning stages of discussing deals involving several players, including Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. The urgency for Chiarelli and the Bruins is a need to make room for at least two forwards when Marco Sturm (knee) and Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome symptoms) are ready to come off long-term injured reserve.

Ryder is off to a hot start with two goals and two assists but carries a $4 million cap hit in his final season on his current deal, which is not very sexy for prospective buyers. A popular theory is that Ryder could be demoted, taking his contract off the big league books. But with him producing, there is very little chance that that would happen. Blake Wheeler, while not as productive as his $2.2 million contract would indicate, Wheeler still has the potential to be a very productive player and his RFA status after this year makes him a lot more enticing as trade bait.

Yesterday it came out that the Bruins are interested in Keith Yandle, a puck-moving defenseman in Phoenix making $1.3 million. With the Coyotes averaging just 2.33 goals per game, the Bruins may have found a trade partner but it will still take a lot of magic by PC to get the Bruins under the cap.

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