Even if Marc Savard were to be shut down for the rest of this season, there’s no guarantee the Bruins would be in the market for a replacement center between now and the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
With Gregory Campbell equipped with some pretty decent hands and Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler both allegedly qualified to fill the middle, the Bruins might still be set at center. A winger or help on the back end might still be their primary targets.
However, if they decide to pursue outside help, New Jersey’s Jason Arnott might be worth a look. The veteran recently told Star-Ledger Rich Chere that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause in order to get onto a contending team’s roster.
As far as experience, skill and size, Arnott would seem to fit the bill as a helpful addition to Boston’s cause. But his $4.5 million cap hit is a bit prohibitive. Even if Boston exercises its option to put Savard on LTIR, they’d still have to move a decent salary to rent Arnott (he’ll be unrestricted this summer) and not get hit by too hard a cap penalty going into next season.
This season, Arnott has skated in 50 games and posted 12-10-22 totals in 15:48 of ice time per night. He has also won an impressive 52 percent of his draws, and his minus-11 rating isn’t all that terrible when you consider the poor squad he has skated for this season.
Here’s a capsule look at Arnott:
Size: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds
Background: The seventh overall draft pick in 1993, Arnott is in his 17th NHL season. He is just one five players in NHL history to skate in more than 200 games with four different franchises. He is currently sixth among active players in career goals (395) and 11th in points (895). He’s best known for scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal against Dallas during his first stint with the Devils. He has suffered a concussion three years straight.
McKeen’s says: Prior to this season, the McKeen’s Hockey Pool Yearbook described Arnott as a “tough, brawny forward with impressive mobility and finesse skills for a big man. … Often plagued by lapses in urgency yet now plays a more consistent power game on the puck.”
What will it take to get him? The Devils aren’t likely to go into full-rebuild mode, so they might be willing to consider a young veteran already on the NHL roster (think Blake Wheeler) but that’d be too steep a price. The Bruins’ overflow of draft picks has to be attractive as well. Maybe one of their second-round picks would be just enough to satisfy the Devs, who know they’ll get nothing for Arnott come summer. If the Bruins were to make the move for a pick or two, they’d have to find another way to clear a little cap space — either through trade or waivers.
Bottom line: There aren’t many contending teams that are going to be able to fit Arnott under their cap or on their payroll. Even if they shut down Savard, the Bruins would probably have to do too much else to fit in a guy that has been solid this season but is so overpaid. It’s worth monitoring Arnott’s situation, however, in case other deals the Bruins make clear up some space or if it becomes obvious they must make a move for a center to succeed down the stretch.