We don’t know if the Bruins after this season will be able to do what they want as far as re-signing would-be unrestricted free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle.
All we do know is that during the Peter Chiarelli era on Causeway Street, the Bruins have never lost a player they truly wanted to retain to free agency, not counting the odd case of restricted free agent Phil Kessel, who basically priced his way out of town. And there’ll always be some doubt as to how much Boston really wanted to keep Kessel.
In Kaberle’s case, Chiarelli has already stated his desire to re-sign the blueliner he paid a pretty price to Toronto to get a couple weeks ago. The plan is for the Bruins and Kaberle’s agent Rick Curran to negotiate once the season’s over.
In examining the Kaberle situation, The Hockey News columnist Lyle Richardson wrote today:
CapGeek.com listed the Bruins as having more than $53 million committed to 19 players for next season and while the team only has a handful of players to re-sign or replace (Brad Marchand, Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi) a new contract for Kaberle would bite deeply into their available cap space.
At this stage it’s too early to tell how contract talks will go between Kaberle and the Bruins as he’s still settling in with the team.
He might be tempted to test the summer’s free agent market, where he’d be among the few notable stars available and thus could earn top dollar. It’s believed Kaberle would prefer to remain in the Eastern Conference and, if he enjoys playing in Boston, would consider a longer term for perhaps less money than he’d fetch in free agency.
Well, first off, considering that Kaberle didn’t even want to leave Toronto despite the way he was treated there the last several years, he doesn’t strike me as the type of guy to start a summertime bidding war. He basically told the Maple Leafs the only team he would leave them for would be the Bruins. So he obviously liked it here before he even got here. That could change should the experience here suddenly turn sour. But he wanted to be a Bruin as far back as last season.
When it comes to the money, it’s not really that difficult. Marchand will probably re-up for around $2 million but Ryder’s $4 million comes off the books. If Recchi comes back, he gets his usual $1 million and that can come out of Daniel Paille’s share of the salary cap. If Kaberle gets his $4 million over say three or four years, and the Bruins don’t get some help from a rise in the cap, they can easily replace a third- or fourth-line millionaire with an entry-level contract like Jordan Caron, or move a multi-million-dollar deal like Andrew Ference’s via trade. Adam McQuaid has burst into the top four and is turning into one of the biggest bargains in the NHL at $575,000 per season for this and next year. Plus Matt Bartkowski will be a year better next season and ready to contribute with his entry-level deal.
The playoff collapse of last spring didn’t scare off the likes of Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk when it came time to re-sign with Boston. Nothing like that is likely to happen again, nor will there be anything equally awful to push Kaberle away from the Bruins.
I wouldn’t be too concerned that he’s going to turn into a two-month rental regardless of what some might think he could fetch on the open market or the extra demands others on Boston’s roster will be seeking. Right or wrong, Chiarelli seems to always get his man.