Slow free agency to blame for slowed trade market

The Bruins had plans to be active in the trade market throughout the offseason, and as anyone who’s seen their current cap situation could infer, they would have been in far better shape had they been able to move contracts out as they brought new ones in. Yet in all their moves thus far, they’ve crept closer and closer to that $59.4 million cap ceiling with moves still left to be made.

Dennis Wideman and Nathan Horton’s annual cap hits were essentially a wash, with Horton ($4 million) making slightly more, but the $1.1 million Gregory Campbell will earn in each of the next two seasons, in addition to multiple re-signings made by the Bruins, has left the team looking at just over $500,000 to sign both Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin, neither of which could be had for such cheap money.

Though the Bruins clearly are in a predicament, it’s tough to blame them. In fact, it could be argued that they have actually done the best with the situation the offseason has put them in, with free agency in particular preventing them from potentially making a deal they may be interested in.

Though Ilya Kovalchuk has gotten plenty of attention for still not having signed a deal, the fact of the matter is that the high-scoring winger is not alone is prolonged free agent status. Alexander Frolov, Lee Stempniak, Marty Turco, Paul Kariya and Maxim Afinogenov are just a few of the big names that remain on the market 20 days into free agency.

As a result, general manager Peter Chiarelli said last week to expect the Bruins to be “relatively quiet” as they wrap up Wheeler and Seguin. This means that anyone who has been strung along by each murmur of a rumored deal including Marc Savard or Tim Thomas may be disappointed.

The long and short of it is that it is unlikely any team interested in trading for any Bruins player with a bigger contract (Savard’s $4 million cap hit is more manageable and a better bargain than Thomas’ $5 million) would want to make such a deal before seeing where the pieces fall in free agency. Depending on where Turco goes, it could become a certainty that Thomas will stay in Boston and continue to split time with Tuukka Rask for the time being.

As for Savard, a potential deal should never be counted out, but if a team with multiple needs on offense needs to make a splash, it could try to wait it out on one of the top non-Kovalchuk wingers and save money by adding a scorer at shorter money rather than trading for a center with a seven-year deal.

The Islanders could be one of those teams, and they were reported to be “in the hunt” for Savard. They have also been one of the teams vying for Kovalchuk’s services, so should Kovalchuk end up with the Kings or back with the Devils, the Islanders — who have plenty of cap space (over $27 million) — could begin the process of weighing the benefits of going after a cheaper winger or trading for Savard. The Islanders, who scored just 214 goals last season, could certainly use the help in either area. Or both.

3 Responses to Slow free agency to blame for slowed trade market

  1. leafy says:

    One hot rumor is Gagne to Tampa for Mike Smith. Have to keep our eyes open for that.

  2. Kessel_Leafs48 says:

    now that kovy's finally signed!!! im anxious to see how things pick up in the trade category especially for leafs if something will pop up..  also now that kovy's outta the way if burke will pursue afinigenov.. i believe there was some interest there and now other teams might go after him so maybe itll force him to go harder for him also? just thoughts… really happy kovy signed but id rather him go to LA so he wouldnt haunt leafs as much(N) but hey maybe this opens for a trade with new jersey.. maybe barring a miracle we can steal parise haha

  3. andy_beleafs says:

    Going with the idea of free agency here and leaving any possible Kaberle deals out of it, any opinions on free agents that could help the Leafs out? There's three I have in mind: 

    1) Brendan Morrison – he would be by far our oldest player but if we try to run with Bozak and potentially Kadri as our top two centers he could be a good 3rd or 4th (or 2nd if need be option – basically he's good all around, not 1st line good, but he can help to fill our need at center. $1-1.5 mil. 
    2) Evgeny Artyukhin – He's massive, he can skate and he's got more offensive upside than I think he is given credit for. He's versatile and downright scary. $1 mil
    3) Patrick O'Sullivan – He's got loads of talent but needs a kick in the ass and remember that playing D is a part of the game. He could be that scoring LW that we could really use (perhaps more than that big C). $1.75-2.3 mil
    So those are my ideas as far as free agents go. All could be had relatively cheaply. Any other ideas? Opinions?

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