Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was unable to discuss the Nathan Horton trade with the media today because of his travel schedule heading to Los Angeles for this weekend’s draft. Until I get some questions answered by him, I’m going to postpone my full-blown analysis of the deal.
But here are a couple quick thoughts:
•The Bruins were victimized by a roster with “too many passengers” (still love that Mark Recchi quote) last season. Horton has been accused of riding shotgun a little too much in Florida. Head coach Claude Julien has been known to work wonders with guys like this, but it has to be a two-way street. So when it comes to working hard every night, Horton is in Missouri — show me! It’s going to be great to watch this unfold.
•Boston is obviously not done dealing. According to CapGeek.com, they now have $52.4 million committed to 16 players. Assuming the new salary cap is around $59 million, that leaves them just north of $6 million to get Mark Recchi, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell signed, plus fit in the No. 2 pick. The other shoe has to drop before July 1, and that of course is a trade of Tim Thomas or Marc Savard. While I don’t doubt the reliability of reports that Savard is on the block, I still cannot fathom how moving him out of town helps the Bruins. The easiest way to clear that sort of cap space is to tell Michael Ryder to report directly to Providence, don’t pass go, do not collect $200 (just the $4 million you stole last season).
•While it’s great the Bruins got value for Dennis Wideman, people need to stop acting as though he was some modern-day version of Nathan Dempsey. Yes, he struggled last season and his excuses about lacking desire were nauseating. But in the playoffs, he was almost back in his ’08-09 form. The Bruins would not have beaten Buffalo without Wideman’s two-way play. And let’s face it, the mistakes he made were more noticeable because of the minutes he played. Some of that has to be blamed on Julien.
In the case of Wideman, he was never as great as he looked in ’09 and never as bad as he looked last season. What he is is a slightly overpaid top-four defenseman whose production on the power play should make up for his mistakes in his own end. And if Chiarelli hadn’t gotten the Wideman deal done in the summer of ’08, how many of you would’ve been screaming bloody murder? A change of scenery might do Wideman well, although if he couldn’t get motivated in Boston, how is he going to get up for games in front of empty seats in the South Florida heat?
•According to CapGeek.com, Horton will make $4 million this season, $4.5 million the next and $5.5 million in the last year of the deal. Just keep that in mind if he morphs into the next Ryder or Marco Sturm and you’re thinking buyout. That’s going to be a lot of cash. And remember Horton’s no-trade clause kicks in July 1.