The reports out of Los Angeles late Saturday after the 2010 NHL Entry Draft ended revealed Marc Savard and his agent Larry Kelly might’ve have loosened their stance as far as the center’s total no-trade clause, which doesn’t become a limited no-trade until July 1.
The two teams Savard was willing to go to before the end of this month were Ottawa and Toronto, which would both keep him in the East and near his children. But a glance at the respective rosters of the Senators and Maple Leafs reveals little in the way of assets those teams would be willing to part with and Boston would be interested in acquiring.
In the case of Ottawa, defenseman Chris Phillips sticks out. Phillips has a no-trade clause and is signed for just one more year at $3.5 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent (according to CapGeek.com). Adding him, if he approved such a deal, would make at least one of Boston’s incumbent defensemen expendable and would probably require Mark Stuart or Matt Hunwick to also be in the deal. That would expand the trade beyond Phillips and Savard. That Phillips comes off the books after this year is perfect timing because Boston has to re-up with Zdeno Chara.
Of course, Ottawa is highly unlikely to part with Phillips. They’re going to lose Anton Volchenkov as an unrestricted free agent and will need to add to their defense, not subtract a mainstay like Phillips. Were he not recovering from an ACL injury, Milan Michalek might interest Boston. But trading for an injured player is never wise, and dealing Michalek for a center would start to push Ottawa toward the same problem the Bruins have: too many big-time centers and not enough talented wings. Unless the Sens could add Savard to their salary structure without giving up a major roster player, the Bruins and Ottawa aren’t likely to work out a deal.
And then there’s Toronto. Master media manipulator Brian Burke obviously has his minions working overtime to throw everyone off the scent. Various reports have the Leafs demanding a top-six forward for defenseman Tomas Kaberle; not interested in Savard; interested in Savard but not at the price of Kaberle; or willing to trade Phil Kessel for Savard. The last one, obviously, was included for comedic effect. The point is, the Bruins might have passing interest in players like Francois Beauchemin, Nikolai Kulemin and some of Toronto’s top prospects, but the Bruins have to go hard after Kaberle before taking those talks elsewhere.
To think that Burke hasn’t been dreaming of Savard setting up Kessel ever since acquiring the winger last September is nuts, and that Savard signed a cap-friendly multi-year extension with Boston (with a friendly buyout number after the first three years) has to make him even more attractive to the Leafs and any team searching for a No. 1 center.
The Kaberle situation is interesting because he will be a UFA after this season and already carries a $4.25 million cap hit. As of now he’d be looking for a raise, and a season with a deep Bruins deep that should win a round or two of playoffs would only raise his profile and piece. Re-signing him would be difficult, so it’d probably be more a case of the Bruins hoping Kaberle is the final piece of the puzzle in search of a Stanley Cup.
Reportedly, Savard’s limited no-trade after July 1 includes Montreal, Chicago and one other team. The Bruins would be nuts to not wait until they have more options to make a move with Savard. Of course, this all could be just exploratory and they could decide that if they move Tim Thomas, they will have cleared enough room and can go forward with one of the deepest pools of centers in the league.
Regardless, Savard really hasn’t helped the Bruins efforts to trade him at this point, and he shouldn’t. When he signed that extension in December, he wanted to be a Bruin for the rest of his career, and it’s his right to expect that will still be the case.