How could the Boston Bruins clear up some salary cap space?

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Thumbnail image for timthomas.jpgIn case you missed it, the Boston Bruins decided to honor the arbitrator’s award and take on Blake Wheeler’s perfectly reasonable one-year, $2.2 million deal. Wheeler might not be a proven commodity, but he’s a big body who is worth a single season shot.

Of course, you’re probably also aware that the Bruins are in quite a salary cap pickle. They’re basically over the salary cap by Wheeler’s contract, so someone’s going to need to go whether it’s via a trade, a minor league assignment or a buyout. The situation is pretty intriguing, so I thought I’d break down some of the team’s most commonly discussed options to see which ones might be the most desirable.

Trade Marc Savard

I’ll get deeper into the latest rumor of the Kings inquiring about Savard later tonight, but let me discuss the bigger picture regarding the playmaking center.

There are a few things that make Savard a desirable candidate. He’s one of the league’s most gifted passers, putting up assist totals of 23 in only 41 games last year, 63 twice, 69, and 74 in the last five seasons. Savard was one of the NHL’s best bargains in his previous deal, but now his cap hit is even more reasonable at just more than $4 million.

Of course, there are some minuses too. The aforementioned cap-cheap deal is a baby Kovalchuk contract, with his final two years paying him at a league minimum. That would be fine-and-dandy except that the 33-year-old center suffered some serious concussion problems thanks to that notorious Matt Cooke hit. Any other GM must wonder if the Bruins are trying to get rid of Savard so soon after signing him because he’s still having issues.

Trade Tim Thomas

While Savard is a salary cap steal, former Vezina winner Thomas’s deal is an eye sore. He’s making $5 million per year and his deal is a 35+ contract, so you cannot even pray for him to retire to experience cap relief. Considering the bone-dry free agent market, why would a team want to clog its cap with a guy who couldn’t live up to a big deal? On the bright side, the Bruins at least will get a little security if Tuukka Rask falters Steven Mason-style.

Take a look at a couple other options after the jump

Thumbnail image for michaelryderbrotherofdan.jpgTrade/Demote Michael Ryder

After putting together a solid 27 goal, 26 assist campaign in 2008-09, Ryder floundered from 53 to 33 points last season. His playoff production also regressed considerably. My guess is that another team would only take on Ryder if the Bruins absorbed some of their cap headaches, so chances are that a demotion would be the most realistic option for the pouting power forward. My guess is that their penny-pinching owner might have some qualms with paying him $4 million to play in the AHL, though.

Play entry-level chicken with Tyler Seguin

One notion is to allow Seguin to play nine games and then ship him to the AHL before the team loses a year of his entry-level deal. While that would be a clever salary cap trick, I think it all comes down to production. If Seguin is as sensational as many expect, then he’ll be worth keeping with the big club. Even if that will mean jumping over some high, headache-filled hurdles.

Trade Andrew Ference

Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha.

So, anyway, those are the five most prevalent routes the Bruins might go to clear up some cap space. Naturally, other options could sprout up for GM Peter Chiarelli. That being said, what option seems the most advisable or realistic to the Bruins? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Same story, different location? Isles foil flat Flyers

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NEW YORK (AP) The New York Islanders distaste for the Philadelphia Flyers clearly came with them during their move to Brooklyn. Seeing their nemesis Wednesday night brought out some needed emotion.

“We needed a good, hard, physical game like that,” Casey Cizikas said after the Islanders beat the Flyers 3-1 in a rough-and-tumble affair.

“Those games are fun. When they get testy like that, when they get physical like that, that’s what makes the game of hockey so much fun. I think we thrived off of that.”

Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves and Kyle Okposo put the Islanders ahead early in the second period. Cizikas and Frans Nielsen also scored and the Islanders improved to 11-8-3 by snapping a two-game losing streak.

Steve Mason made 33 saves and Claude Giroux scored the Flyers’ lone goal.

Philadelphia has lost four of five and fell to 7-10-5.

“We’re just inconsistent. It’s the same story every game. We need to find a way to be consistent the whole game,” Giroux said. “I’m not too sure what to say. It’s the same story every game.”

The first of five meetings this season between Philadelphia and New York was a chippy one. There were post-whistle scrums seemingly after every whistle, and tempers boiled over in the second period when Nick Leddy fought Giroux.

Leddy had earned the Flyers’ ire in the first period after boarding Michael Raffl face first into the boards, but Giroux said his rationale for fighting was only partially inspired by wanting to get even for his teammate.

“The second period we were flat,” Giroux said. “Anytime you have a chance to change the momentum, you do it.”

Seven minutes after the Leddy-Giroux fight, Matt Martin squared off with Wayne Simmonds.

According to, New York had three fights this season prior to Wednesday night, and the Flyers had eight.

“It was two teams battling hard,” John Tavares said. “We’re going to have a lot of those games coming up.”

New York took a 2-1 lead 5:14 into the second period on Okposo’s fifth of the season. Tavares won an offensive-zone faceoff to begin the sequence, and Okposo gained possession of the puck along the wall, then curled toward the net before flipping a harmless-looking shot that appeared to ricochet off Nick Schultz and over Mason.

“There’s no room for error,” said Mason, adding that the puck “bounced off the side of the net” for the game-winning goal.

The teams traded goals in the first period and the long-time rivals went into the first intermission tied 1-1. Giroux opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the left circle 3:59 into the game, but Cizikas tied it with a short-handed goal with 58 seconds left in the period. It New York’s third short-handed tally this season.

New York’s penalty kill came into the game ranked 11th in the NHL, while Philadelphia’s power play was 24th.

“We have to look at everything,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when asked if his team’s scheme needed to be modified in order to generate more offense. “(We) try to do that every day. So we have to look at everything.”

The Islanders outshot Philadelphia 36-18. New York had a 65-48 advantage in total shots.

“It was one of our better games defensively,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t give them too much.”

NOTES: This game marked Colin McDonald’s season debut. The Flyers called up the ex-Islander from AHL Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He had played in four games this season with the Phantoms, where he had two assists. … Philadelphia scratched Vincent Lecavalier, Evgeny Medvedev and Sam Gagner. Lecavalier has been scratched the last six games. The 35-year-old is in the third year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract. He has one assist in seven games this season. … New York scratched Adam Pelech and Taylor Beck. … The teams came into the match having split the last 16 matches. The Islanders were 8-8-0 while the Flyers were 8-3-5. … The announced attendance was 13,027.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci

The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy


Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.