Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli plays everything related to player personnel close to his vest. But one thing he was very up front about today during a conference call to announce center David Krejci’s new contract extension is that his phone isn’t burning up with other GMs trying to pry away Krejci or potential restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel.
“I’ve made it clear over time as to how I value those players,” said Chiarelli. “So the frequency of calls isn’t that high. (Other GMs) are aware of how highly I value them.”
In addition to Kessel, defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Byron Bitz are also scheduled for RFA status come July 1. Chiarelli also has a half dozen unrestricted free agents to consider, the draft coming up June 26 and then the opening of free agency July 1. So the fun is just beginning.
Chiarelli said not to read anything into Krejci’s deal getting done first and he would not shed light on how far negotiations with the other players have progressed. But he did make it clear he doesn’t look at July 1 as any type of a deadline.
“It’s something that you just have to gauge the negotiations as they are and if someone wants to try to lead a negotiation to July 1 I’m prepared to do that. We’re going to match. So while it’s not insignificant, it’s one of the factors, there’s other tools that we have as a team, we can elect arbitration on certain players … it’s one of the myriad factors we look at when we’re trying to sign these guys,” said Chiarelli. “I don’t want to be rushed or hurried by the July 1. I recognize that there’s a threat of offer sheets. While there may be some, I’m prepared to match in our cases and we’re prepared beyond matching to do the maneuvers that we have to do.”
Chiarelli would not even estimate what a deal with Kessel would amount to compared with Krejci’s three-year, $11.25 million contract and would only say that “we value them both a lot.” But salary-cap restrictions, obviously, preclude the Bruins from giving Kessel too much more than Krejci.
In noting that he wants to continue to make the Bruins bigger while not sacrificing too much in speed — both up front and on the back end — Chiarelli did make this reference that might shed some light on what it would take for the Bruins to part with Kessel, who was the club’s leading goal-scorer last season.
“I think if we sacrifice goals, then you’d probably see us get a little bit bigger or get a little more on the back end,” said the GM.
Contract and trade talks will obviously continue to heat up between now and the draft.
•Chiarelli said Kessel will start his rehab from last month’s shoulder surgery later this week. Defenseman Andrew Ference’s surgery to repair his groin and hernia injuries is still not scheduled.