No big deal for Chiarelli and Bruins
GM isn’t anticipating any major moves for champs
MINNEAPOLIS — Yesterday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who headed the club that advanced to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, chucked a grenade into his dressing room. First, Holmgren traded Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jake Voracek, the No. 8 pick in tonight’s draft, and a third-rounder.
Then, Holmgren wheeled captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 2012 second-round pick.
“You knew something was coming, and it came,’’ said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “In a big way.’’
To cap a day in which he turned his lineup upside down, Holmgren signed Ilya Bryzgalov — the Flyers had acquired the negotiating rights to the goalie from Phoenix earlier this month — to a nine-year, $51 million contract.
“No,’’ Chiarelli said when asked if he expected such a dramatic alteration. “But I respect Paul Holmgren as a manager. When they shake things up, they shake things up.’’
While Holmgren laid a sledgehammer to his roster, Chiarelli, the architect of the 2011 Cup-winning team, stood pat. Yesterday, Chiarelli held meetings with his scouts and management colleagues. He had a conversation with Rick Curran, Tomas Kaberle’s agent (he declined to disclose the nature of the talks). Following the day’s work, Chiarelli and his team retired to a local steak house where the Cup, delivered from Las Vegas to Minneapolis, served as the centerpiece.
The day was calm. That’s because last year around this time, Chiarelli did his dealings, albeit in a quieter fashion than Holmgren. In the weeks before the draft, at the annual meat market itself, and in the following days, the Bruins laid the foundation for the roster that would win the Cup.
On June 4, 2010, Shawn Thornton agreed to a two-year, $1.625 million extension. A day later, Chiarelli signed Dennis Seidenberg to a four-year, $13 million contract.
On June 22, the Bruins acquired Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell from Florida for Dennis Wideman, the 15th pick in the 2010 draft, and their 2011 third-rounder. Two days later, Johnny Boychuk signed a two-year, $3.75 million extension. On June 25, the Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin with the No. 2 selection, the first chip of the Phil Kessel trade.
In just three weeks, the Bruins had locked down their enforcer, No. 2 defenseman, top-line right wing, fourth-line center, second-pairing defenseman, and a future breakout star. Of all the pieces, the most important to accomplish before the draft was landing Horton and Campbell.
“I didn’t want it dragging through the draft period,’’ Chiarelli said. “Things get muddied. Picks start flying around. You lose your deal.’’
Last year’s predraft dealings proved similar to how the Bruins made their deals prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline. On Feb. 15, they acquired Chris Kelly from Ottawa for their 2011 second-round pick. Three days later, the Bruins shipped Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. Later that day, Joe Colborne, their 2011 first-round pick, and a conditional 2012 selection went to Toronto for Kaberle.
The predraft and predeadline moves helped the Bruins win the Cup. But they’ve also left the Bruins in good shape for 2011-12. Mark Recchi has retired, leaving only Kaberle and Michael Ryder as unrestricted free agents. Chiarelli has yet to speak with Thane Campbell, Ryder’s agent.
Brad Marchand is the only significant restricted free agent. Marchand does not have arbitration rights, which limits his negotiating power. One agent speculated that Marchand could sign a short-term deal worth $2.5 million annually to set himself up for a bigger third contract. Or Marchand could pursue deals similar to those signed by Milan Lucic (three years, $12.25 million) and David Krejci (three years, $11.25 million) when their entry-level contracts expired.
The Bruins have approximately $50 million committed to 11 forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies expected to be on the 2011-12 roster. They will have financial flexibility July 1 if they wish to pursue free agents.
For now, the focus is on tonight and tomorrow. The Bruins have the No. 9 pick tonight. It is the final piece of the Kessel trade, which already has netted Seguin and Jared Knight. They could be in the hunt for a defenseman. Doug Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, and Nathan Beaulieu would be targets. Of the bunch, Murphy could be the most enticing. The puck-mover has been compared with former Windsor Spitfires standout Ryan Ellis, selected 11th overall in 2009. The Bruins inquired about Ellis when Nashville showed interest in acquiring Kessel.
“We haven’t drafted a lot of defensemen — elite defensemen — with our top picks,’’ Chiarelli said. “I guess that would be something we’d be looking at.’’
Including No. 9, the Bruins will have six picks in the draft. The others are No. 40 (via Minnesota in the Chuck Kobasew trade), No. 81 (via Phoenix in the Derek Morris trade), and Nos. 121, 151, and 181.
“I don’t think there’ll be any magic for us tomorrow,’’ said Chiarelli. “We’re pretty content where we are. We’ll see where it goes.’’
The NHL released the master schedule for 2011-12 yesterday. The Bruins will play 13 of their first 17 games at TD Garden . . . Chiarelli said he is close to signing a Providence head coach. An announcement could come tomorrow. Bruce Cassidy, who served as Rob Murray’s assistant, is in the mix.