Not only is there no timetable for Marc Savard’s return to the Bruins, but there’s no timetable for when the Bruins will know the timetable.
Such is the nature of head injuries, which the Bruins have learned all too well over the last several seasons.
Obviously, Savard’s well-being is No. 1 in all of our thoughts. But there is the matter of a Bruins team that thinks it has a legitimate shot to win the Stanley Cup and several decisions have to be made about the roster, especially if they’re going to be without Savard for the long term, between now and the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
Here are some random thoughts about where the Bruins go from here:
•For now, the Bruins will stay in-house to make up for Savard’s absence while they determine how long he’s going to be out. Tyler Seguin shifted back to center last night in Los Angeles. Depending on how much head coach Claude Julien wants to juggle his lines after the team was shut out, Blake Wheeler might see some time in the middle as well. Based on the Kings game, Seguin should be back on the wing in the blink of an eye. He seemed lost out there and he’s way too soft on the puck.
Undoubtedly, Boston will consider promoting Joe Colborne or Zach Hamill, two natural centers. But Colborne has suffered through an up-and-down rookie season in the AHL, and Hamill seems in need of more seasoning. Hamill has only recently started to put up points for the P-Bruins.
Should Boston decide to devote some cap space to a call-up, a more likely scenario would be Jamie Arniel or Jordan Caron coming up. Arniel could even play center.
•Oh Glen Metropolit, if you were only still in North America. But seriously, the Bruins might decide a scrappy veteran that comes on the cheap is the best way to fill the Savard void. With Calgary’s resurgence in the Western Conference race, that probably takes them out of the seller’s category for now. Brendan Morrison might’ve been a good fit. Down in New Jersey, the Devils haven’t given up, but Adam Mair has always been a solid glue guy that can play center or wing and upholds the Bruins-type level of toughness.
•Should the Bruins and Savard decide to call it a season, Boston could use the LTIR. But remember, that doesn’t mean they can just add a player with a similar $4 million cap hit and move on. The LTIR allows a team to spend beyond the cap by a certain amount. Through factors that only CapGeek.com and lawyers can explain, next year a team that uses LTIR this season can be hit with a penalty (just like the performance bonuses that right now do not count against this season’s cap). The Bruins need to be careful not to put themselves in a tough cap position next season in pursuit of a big payday this season.
That being said, you have to be interested to hear about what’s going in with Ottawa, which is seemingly looking ahead to trading veterans at the deadline.
Mike Fisher, who has a limited no-trade clause he would have to waive for Boston, might be a little pricey at a cap hit of around $4.1 million. He sure would look nice in black and gold though, and not just because his wife would pretty up the family room. If he can put up 13 goals on a struggling team like Ottawa, imagine what he would do surrounded by the Bruins’ depth playing down in the lineup. But he’s signed through 2012-13, which is a heck of a commitment for a player playing a position where Boston is so deep. Basically, Fisher to Boston is a pipe dream.
I’d be similarly unrealistic about the Bruins’ chances of using the Florida Panthers as a farm team again and importing Stephen Weiss to play with his long-lost linemate Nathan Horton. Weiss carries a surprisingly friendly $3.1 million, but like Fisher is signed through 2012-13. While the Panthers might want to continue their rebuild this way, we know Florida general manager Dale Tallon strikes a hard bargain and the price would probably be too steep for another player that has never won anything.
Bottom line … the unpredictable nature of Savard’s injury has the Bruins somewhat handcuffed. But the salary cap and the parity around the league that fools many teams into thinking they’re contenders already was making it difficult for Boston to make a move. So going forward, I’d expect they’ll stay in-house for Savard’s replacement and see if the depth they boast of all the time is real or in their heads.