It’s as big a secret as Perez Hilton’s sexuality that the Boston Bruins are in a bad cap place. The sword of Damocles has been doing more dangling than Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Anze Kopitar combined. Before the season started, it was widely speculated who would be signed at all, who would be dealt, and who would stay. The return of Marc Savard’s post concussion syndrome, and Marco Sturm’s long recovery from a second knee injury provided a stay of execution for both the front office, and the players. With Savard recently cleared for contact, and Sturm skating urgency is the word of the day. The on ice play of some members of the Black and Gold has made what was expected to be a clear cut case of dumping salary far more murky. Here’s a look at some of the players who are highly unlikely to be moved in the next week or two.
First on the list of players going no where is Tim Thomas, last season he battled a hip injury, a hand injury, a team that spent most of the season forgetting that they were supposed to play in front of him. This year he’s returned to his Vezina winning form, a form that includes acrobatics that might land him a job in Cirque du Soleil if he ever considers a career change, and a shutout collection that seems to grow weekly. To put things in perspective, in his Vezina season where he split duties with Manny Fernandez, he had five shutouts in fifty seven games. This season in thirteen he has four. He currently leads the NHL in Sv%, GAA, and SO. He also has a NMC he’s unlikely to waive.
Next on the list is Olympic Gold Medalist, faceoff ace, best all around player and longest tenured skater, Patrice Bergeron. He’s a leader both on and off the ice, is an emotional catalyst for the team, can play center where he has been for the past several season, or wing where he was drafted. Bergeron plays in all situations, and is one of the guys who can be counted on to show up and play every shift of very game. Even if one of the youngsters should emerge as a better option at center the not-quite greybeard can easily be slip back to right wing. He was resigned to a new three year deal back in October as well. As the organization has made it a goal to get bigger at forward losing the largest of the top three centers, who also outmasses Seguin, Spooner and Suave seems like a step backward.
Milan Lucic isn’t going any place. He’s probably not going anyplace even if he asks to be traded. Leaving aside the burgeoning power forward’s on ice contributions, he’s good for merchandise sales. Given the huge cheers that spring up from the Garden Crowd’s whenever he touches the puck or pummels someone, even if he did ask for a trade I don’t think I’d want to be the GM who traded the man who is currently the teams goal scoring leader, has turned in one of the best post season +/-‘s in the last several years, and has worked consistently at improving one aspect of his game every season since he got here. Just go look at footage of his skating from his rookie season, and then look at his skating now. Then, go look at his second season and pay attention to his shot release. His release wasn’t quite slow enough to be clocked with a sun dial, but it’s no where near the speed it is today. Also, he’s leading Phil Kessel in goals, points, and plus-minus right now.
Zdeno Chara, it may seem strange that I have to list a six foot nine, two hundred sixty pound, Norris Trophy winning blueline monster who happens to be the team captain on this list, and I agree. However, there are certain chowderheads in the local media who don’t buy Chara as a number one defenseman, much less an elite defenseman who can’t be left any objective list of the top ten defensemen in the NHL, and will probably appear in most top five lists. While his $7.5 million cap hit would erase the cap crunch in one move, the question becomes what sort of value are you getting back? None of the comparable defensemen (Keith, Weber, Doughty, Pronger, Lidstrom) are going to come cheap (if at all), and both Pronger and Lidstrom are older than Chara. I can’t see the front offices in Chicago, Columbus or LA doing anything but laugh hysterically at the thought of trading their studs. For the next tier down, (Suter, Seabrook, Markov, Jovanovski, Bouwmeester) you’re looking at players who are either not going to be available, one dimensional, or who have consistency issues. While a blockbuster trade that sent Chara and Ryder to Atlanta for Byfuglien, Kane and a pick might work in a fantasy league, and would be exciting, I think I’ll fail to hold my breath on it happening.
Marc Savard, not only is he aging, not very athletic, and possibly subject to bias from high up the NHL pecking order, he’s now making a second comeback from at least his second concussion. He’s got a no trade clause he’s unlikely to waive, and on top of that he’s still a dynamic playmaker with sensational passing skills on a team that’s offense is shaky. I don’t see him wanting to go anywhere else, even to a team where he’d have as good a shot at winning a cup as he does in Boston (or better) in the next year or two.
Marco Sturm. As the longest tenured German in NHL history, you might expect him to be older than his 32 years. Despite the injuries of the last two years he’s been a remarkably consistent and healthy player. In the last seven seasons that he’s played 64 or more games he’s never failed to score less than twenty goals. With the depth up front he has a solid shot at breaking twenty goals again. There’s even a possibility he’s reunited with old running mate Patrice Bergeron. This is the last year of his contract, and he’s got to be playing not just for pride this year, but for his future employment. He’s another of the Boston players with solid three zone play.
Next Post: players it may be most beneficial to trade.