In discussing tomorrow’s start of the free-agent “frenzy” today during a conference call, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s favorite word was “wary.”
He used it in terms of his own unrestricted free agents — Tomas Kaberle and Michael Ryder — and in terms of players that are available from other teams.
Chiraelli made it clear he won’t be part of the early flurry when the market opens at noon EST Friday, and he understands the risk of losing a Kaberle or a Ryder off his Stanley Cup championship squad. But it’s a risk he’s willing to take.
“I said to those guys go out there and see what’s going on and let’s continue to talk,” explained Chiarelli, who stressed with a little more enthusiasm than in recent weeks that he has not severed ties with Kaberle or Ryder.
One guy who’s not going to be back with the Bruins is defenseman Shane Hnidy, who signed with the team in February and was basically just along for the ride. Hnidy, who appeared in just six games, will be a “good addition” for another club, said Chiarelli.
Mark Recchi, who so far has stuck to his decision to retire, will also not be back. But Chiarelli said he’s not in a rush to replace either veteran. He’s confident that he’ll be able to do that down the road from outside or within, and he can also make up for the loss of Ryder or Kaberle if it comes to that.
Two things are keeping Chiarelli from loosening his purse strings right off the bat — the lack of star power in this free-agent class, and the fact that teams below the cap floor need to spend and might knock the market out of whack.
Chiarelli is also looking down the road to the possibility that the next collective bargaining agreement (this is the last year of the current CBA) will bring a lower salary cap maximum and the fact that players like David Krejci and Tuukka Rask will be looking at free agency in the near future.
“It certainly impacts us. I’m a little wary of the market,” said the GM. “The cap is high, and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form. So one, generally speaking, I’m wary of the market, where it might be going. Two, and a close two, is that we do have guys we want to re-sign and they’re going to command raises. I’m really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big-term contract. I think we can find that help elsewhere other than those big-term contracts and still be in a good position to re-sign our guys as they come up the next year or two.”