Although they don’t play their regular-season opener until Saturday in Prague, the Bruins — like every NHL team — have to have their opening-night roster set by 3 p.m. EST Wednesday.
A quick glance at the current roster, however, reveals little has to be done for Boston to meet the league’s deadline.
The Bruins are currently carrying 25 players, including third-string goaltender Nolan Schaefer. Barring a major disaster, Schaefer will be assigned to Providence (AHL) before the roster deadline, which leaves Boston with Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas to dress against Phoenix Saturday.
When you figure in that winger Brian McGrattan is still in camp on a tryout without a contract, that gets Boston down to 23 players — the league maximum — including one spare forward and two extra defensemen. Unless the Bruins urgently want to get McGrattan’s muscle into the lineup, they could wait until they’re on North American soil to sign him, or just release him altogether.
The salary cap doesn’t seem to be an issue as long as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard begin the year on Long-Term Injured Reserve, which allows the Bruins to spend the amount of those players’ salaries beyond the salary cap for as long as those players are out injured. Sturm is definitely going to open the year on LTIR. Last week, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Savard was trending that way, and the GM hasn’t said anything different since. A player on LTIR must miss 10 games or 24 days of action.
A quick computation on CapGeek.com shows that with Sturm and Savard out of the picture, and Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski on the roster, the Bruins would still be under the $59.4 million cap. So it looks like the truly difficult decisions will be postponed until Savard and Sturm are ready to go.