Bruins notebook

Chiarelli is thinking cap

Savard, Sturm will need to fit

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 30, 2010

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WILMINGTON — Marc Savard, battling depression and other symptoms related to post-concussion syndrome, skated on his own prior to the Bruins’ late-morning workout yesterday, and general manager Peter Chiarelli sounded encouraged by the center’s progress.

“Savvy had a real good skate — a lot harder than anything so far,’’ said Chiarelli. “He was moving. He is starting to ramp it up.’’

Savard, who experienced the symptoms over the summer, was unable to join the club at the start of training camp in September and has not played this season.

Savard’s progress, in part, has Chiarelli looking to trim the club’s payroll, be it by trades or other means. Chiarelli boldly stated he would not shy away from placing a current roster player in the minor leagues — perhaps sooner than anyone might expect — to save or relax payroll dollars.

“If we have to warehouse someone in the minors, we’ll do that,’’ said Chiarelli. “I don’t want to do it, but I will do it, if it becomes necessary.’’

Demoting a player sooner rather than later could have implications late in the season, if, say, the Bruins are looking to add a role player to secure a playoff spot or make a serious postseason run. In the salary-capped NHL, bad deals are always bad deals in terms of how they impact a club’s payroll — and what room is left against the cap come March and April.

Speculation began months ago, when it became apparent the Bruins would face significant cap issues, that veteran winger Michael Ryder could be ditched to Providence (AHL). On the books for $4 million, Ryder has been playing right wing on a line with Mark Recchi and slick rookie Tyler Seguin and has collected two goals and five points in seven games. That’s a pace approaching 60 points over an 82-game season, a significant uptick from his lackluster (18-15—33) production last season.

But given the cap pressures on Chiarelli, who soon will need to find room for Savard ($4 million) and Marco Sturm ($3.5 million), Ryder could be gone no matter what his production. If his numbers plummet, then he’ll likely be assigned to Providence. If he remains at least offensively viable (he scored a career-high 63 points with Montreal in 2003-04), then Chiarelli will be able to trade him and ostensibly swap in Savard or Sturm.

Even with Ryder’s $4 million off the books, there isn’t enough cap space for both Savard and Sturm, both of whom have no-trade deals. Chiarelli will have to pare elsewhere, which could mean trading Blake Wheeler ($2.2 million) and either dealing or demoting Daniel Paille ($1.075 million). Paille would have to clear waivers to be demoted, and his relatively low cap hit probably makes him easy to move.

The Bruins on Thursday made it official that Seguin, on the books for $950,000 this season (and $2.65 million in potential bonuses), will not be returned to junior hockey. His $950,000 is essentially now fixed to the cap because by league rules, pertaining to junior hockey eligibility, he cannot be demoted to the minors. His staying is yet another reason someone will have to go.

Hitting the books
By coach Claude Julien’s eye, Tim Thomas, his blistering hot netminder, has improved his work on rebounds this season. Does that mean he is cleaning them up better, or just not allowing as many?

“Either way, it works for me,’’ said Julien, who watched Thomas stack the pads to perfection again Thursday night in a 2-0 win over the Maple Leafs. “He’s smothering those pucks.’’

According to the NHL, Thomas on Thursday became the first goaltender in league history to win his first five games and not give up more than one goal in any start.

In the Boston record book, the victory over the Leafs inched Thomas closer to Tiny Thompson, who won his first six games in 1937-38, which remains the club record.

“I thought that was kind of funny — you know, Tiny Thompson and Tank Thomas,’’ noted Thomas. “The record stuff is neat, but you know, I don’t want to rest on that. I just want to keep it going.’’

Asked if he could identify any reasons for his sensational start (5-0-0, 0.60 goals-against average, .981 save percentage), Thomas noted that, if anything, he did less over the summer in terms of conditioning because he remained in rehab after hip surgery.

No new devotee of, say, running half-marathons?

“Run?’’ said Thomas. “Heck, I could barely get off the couch for weeks.’’

Improved nutrition.

“Nah,’’ he said. “I wish I could do a better job with that . . . but really, I’ve kept everything about the same. And I just want to keep it going.’’

McGrattan sent down
Enforcer/winger Brian McGrattan, signed to a two-way contract at the start of the season, was assigned to Providence for a conditioning stint.

“He has to get some games,’’ said Chiarelli. “It’s just three games. He’ll be back with us Sunday night.’’

McGrattan was expected to be in the Baby B’s lineup last night against the visiting Albany Devils. They play again today, a 1 p.m. matinee in Worcester, and then again tomorrow at home, a 1:05 matinee in Providence against the Worcester Sharks.

Senatorial junket
In Ottawa tonight, the Bruins will take on the Senators, who are recovering slightly (4-5-1) from their flatline start. Spiritual leader Daniel Alfredsson continues to pace the offense (10 games/12 points), but beyond him, it collapses. No. 2 in scoring are Mike Fisher (3-3—6) and Sergei Gonchar (0-6—6). Right now, they are looking and scoring a lot like the 2009-10 Bruins . . . Once Savard is back, look for Seguin to move to a wing position, which in part factored into why the Bruins made it official that Seguin is here for the duration. His improvement at pivot has been OK, but his overall ice time no doubt would increase if Julien had the resources at center to use Seguin as a wing. Once Savard is back, Seguin will be looking at feeds from Savard, Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci . . . The Bruins will fly home tonight, likely be off tomorrow, then begin workouts again Monday in anticipation of their visit to Buffalo on Wednesday.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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