Mailbag: Thinking about the salary cap, Sturm, Savard and more

Sturm/By S. Bradley

If I didn’t know better, reading your questions for this month’s edition of the mailbag I would’ve thought that “salary cap” is a new player on the Bruins.

Most of you just want to know what Boston is going to do to make room for Marc Savard and Marco Sturm, when the rehabilitating forwards return to active duty. Some of you had some hockey-related questions as well.

So without further ado, here’s the November mailbag:

Zach wrote:

I’m unsure why Boston would mess with this line-up when Sturm and Savard eventually come back. I know Savard is an important piece, but Sturm? Couldn’t we find a way of getting rid of him instead of giving away guys like Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder?

MK: Well, let me just say that I doubt the Bruins will “give away” anyone. They could use the Providence option if they can’t get what they want in return for anyone they deem expendable in salary-cap terms. Now as for Savard and Sturm, obviously any team that adds a healthy Marc Savard becomes a much better team. Even during their hot start, the Bruins’ power play hasn’t exactly been burning down the house. Savard keeps defenses guessing and plays with the type of creativity that comes in handy, especially in the playoffs when teams have everything scouted.

As for Sturm, here’s a guy whose game is so predicated on his speed and he’s coming off major knee surgeries on both knees in two years. There’s no telling how much of his former form he’ll be able to regain. To me, it makes sense to not only make sure he’s 100 percent before working him back in, but it could be worth it to send him to Providence on a conditioning stint. This would get him into game shape and give the Bruins a better idea of what type of player he’s going to be. Plus, it buys them up to 30 days of leeway before making the big cap decision. Should Sturm not look like the type of player you want to plug in on a Stanley Cup-contending team, then you have to consider him for the minor-league option to keep his $3.5 million off the books. What’s the worst that happens if you lose him on waivers? You have the whole or half his money against your cap just for the rest of this season. To me, that’s a risk worth taking if Sturm doesn’t fit the plan.

Pierre Bezukov wrote:

With Daniel Paille on the outside looking in and the B’s boasting the NHL’s best PK so far, he is expendable. Obviously, several moves are needed to free cap space for Savard & Sturm. Is Paille a good place to start? He makes $1.075 million this year and next. Does he have trade value in a package or is he Providence-bound?

MK: Daniel Paille is definitely one of the key players on the cutting block. Even when he’s in the lineup, he doesn’t necessarily give you $1.075 million bang for your buck. I believe as part of a package – as in, if a team wants X guy, they have to take Paille – he could fit in somewhere else they’re willing to pay that price for a fourth-liner or send him to the minors. But the Bruins could also put him on waivers and assign him to the AHL to get that money off the books. With his salary, he might be an over-paid fourth-liner, but he’s also a low-risk player when it comes to re-entry waivers should Boston want to bring him back.

PCL wrote:

It seems to me, for the most part, that so far this year the first pass on the breakout from the D has been up ice instead of behind the net, and the forwards have been coming a bit deeper into the defensive zone to assist with the breakout. It seemed that last year they relied on the safety valve pass (D-to-D behind the net) too much, which in my opinion didn’t make the first forechecker commit and/or they became too predictable with that pass allowing the first forechecker to cheat. Is this something that was specifically addressed during the off- and pre-season, specifically the first pass and the forwards coming back deeper?

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