Bruins and Kessel still at impasse

Kevin Paul Dupont

Opening Night now slightly more than three weeks away, speedy Bruins winger Phil Kessel remains without a contract, putting into doubt his statement last month that he would have a new deal in place by the start of the 2009-10 season.
“I can’t respond to that,’’ said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, here for this week’s rookie tournament that has brought together freshmen from Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh. “Phil is eager to get back in the mix, I guess. I respect the fact that he loves the game and wants to be back . . . and I guess he expects the ice will break because of the [imminent] end of the summertime cap.’’

As of Oct. 1, payrolls for NHL clubs must not exceed the league-mandated $56.8 million cap. However, prior to Oct. 1, clubs are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent, to a limit of $62.48 million.

The Bruins, with some $55 million committed for next season, have tried to convince Kessel to sign a deal that would increase the payroll to around $59 million, forcing Chiarelli to ditch a roster player in the minors or offload salary via trade. But thus far none of Boston’s offers has been to Kessel’s liking.