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NHL notebook

Kreider lands with Rangers

Boxford speedster taken 19th overall

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / June 27, 2009
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MONTREAL - Chris Kreider has never been inside Madison Square Garden. In fact, the promising left winger from Boxford, Mass., has never been to Manhattan.

“Hopefully, that will change soon,’’ he said, not long after the Rangers selected Kreider last night with the 19th pick overall in the draft. “New York’s the greatest city in the world. I’m on a good team . . . an Original Six team.’’

Kreider, who is headed to Boston College in September, was ranked the 14th-best skater in North American by the league’s Central Scouting Bureau. The Rangers picked him immediately after the Canadiens chose a Montreal kid, Louis Leblanc (headed to Harvard this fall), at No. 18. The Habs were slow to get to the podium to make their choice and it could be they were torn between a homeboy and the 6-foot-2-inch Kreider.

“This is an elite, elite athlete,’’ said the Rangers’ Gordie Clark, a former Bruins assistant coach and New York’s director of player personnel. “He’s elite physically and mentally. He’s ripped. He blew right through the combine in Toronto.’’

Clark figures that Kreider will play only one or two years at BC before he turns pro.

“He’s a one- or two-year player wherever he goes,’’ Clark said. “He has [Alexander ] Mogilny-type speed. He’s almost what you’d call a rover out there, he’s so fast. From point A to B, he’s the quickest guy in the draft.’’

Cap number set
Consistent with estimates by the league and the Players’ Association over the last 2-4 months, the salary cap for the 2009-10 season was set at $56.8 million, a $100,000 increase over last season’s figure.

The increase, less than 2 percent, in theory makes available another $3 million in salaries for the upcoming campaign. However, very few teams spend to the ceiling, making the increase more a matter of appearance. Had the players not elected to add their 5 percent salary “booster,’’ as they are allowed by the collective bargaining agreement, the cap would have been trimmed by a little more than $2.5 million.

The Bruins have right around $50 million committed for next season and still need to sign Phil Kessel, Matt Hunwick, and Byron Bitz as key roster players. GM Peter Chiarelli also would like to consider making an offer to veteran winger Mark Recchi, but all signings are in abeyance until the Kessel, Hunwick, and Bitz deals are finalized.

He started it
What was the initial offer that triggered the follow-up offers, including that of Kessel, to the Leafs for Tomas Kaberle? According to an NHL source familiar with the discussions between the teams, it was the Flyers offering right wing Joffrey Lupul, who has four years left on his deal at a $4.25 million cap hit.

If that was the offer, it became a moot point when Lupul was sent to Anaheim in the deal that brought Chris Pronger to the Flyers. The Ducks also added top defensive prospect Luca Sbisa and two first-round picks in the deal.

Lupul, the seventh pick in the 2002 draft by Anaheim, was well liked by then-GM Brian Burke. The Flyers, perenially among the league’s biggest spenders, are in need of trimming back their cap commitments.

Now that the Flyers have acquired Pronger, it could mean unrestricted free agent Andrew Alberts, a former Bruins blue liner, will not return to Philly. Pronger fills one very big job back there, and also earns $6.25 million. He also will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2010, unless the Flyers extend his contract.

Lupul was one of the players Burke sent to Edmonton in 2006 when he made the trade to bring Pronger to the Ducks.

So long, Rabbit
Chiarelli said he did not make a qualifying offer this week to Providence pivot Wacey Rabbit, whom the Bruins chose 154th overall in the 2005 draft. After 2 1/2 seasons in the AHL, the 22-year-old Rabbit will become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday . . . Word around town was that Scott Niedermayer, the highly skilled defenseman, has decided to play at least one more season. However, no telling where he will play. He is an unrestricted free agent, free to speak with all 30 teams, and could opt to test Vancouver’s interest in bringing him home, especially with the Olympics to be staged there in February . . . A group led by Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has offered to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes for $148 million and keep the team in Arizona. The offer, submitted in bankruptcy court documents yesterday afternoon, is $64.5 million less than the bid by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wants to move the franchise to Southern Ontario . . . Richard Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum, is here this weekend as a guest of the Canadiens, who have asked him to consult on a Habs Museum they intend to house at the Bell Centre, just as the Garden houses the Sports Museum. “Don’t tell Cam Neely I’m here,’’ said Johnson, who swung by press row shortly before the draft started. “If he finds out I’m consulting the Habs, he’ll punch me in the nose!’’ . . . The boo birds were out in full force when E.J. McGuire, the director of Central Scouting, called the draft to order shortly before 7 p.m. McGuire’s duties include calling each team’s name and asking for one representative from each team’s table to respond. When McGuire called Boston, the building shook with boos. Finally, as it subsided, Chiarelli answered for the Bruins.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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