The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks and 2011 Boston Bruins have some things in common. Both teams won the Stanley Cup, lifted decades-long championship droughts and drew tons of people to their victory parades. They’re both “Original Six” franchises in huge American markets to boot.
With all the similarities, there are some big differences. The most significant one is their team structures: the Blackhawks almost seemed built to peak in the 2009-10 season while the Bruins face a remarkably small amount of big off-season questions in 2011.
It’s looking more and more like the only important re-signing will be restricted free agent Brad Marchand, who should ride a nice rookie season and an outstanding playoff campaign to a healthy raise. Boston failed to trade Tomas Kaberle’s negotiating rights while their finals opponent the Vancouver Canucks managed to get a fourth round pick in 2012 for Christian Ehrhoff’s rights. That attempted move tells you all you really need to know about Kaberle’s future with the Bruins.
Few will be surprised that Kaberle will trot into unrestricted free agency after he damaged his market value with a tepid run in Boston, but it might be a bit more surprising to hear that the Bruins will allow streaky scorer Michael Ryder to walk too. That being said, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be saying all the right things about the two players returning to the fold after testing the free agent market.
“There is no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle when asked if it was decided he wouldn’t return. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent (Rick Curran) is that he would look into the market and we’d continue to talk with him. So certainly there’s no finality there.”
According to Chiarelli the same goes for Ryder.
“We certainly haven’t parted ways,” Chiarelli said. “I’m weary of the market as it stands now so I said ‘look guys go out there and see what’s going on and we’ll continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they’ll get a deal and they can’t come back to us and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”
“I don’t know but I have a sense of what segment they’re in within the market but I’m not entirely certain,” Chiarelli said when asked if he thought he may still be able to get Ryder and Kaberle back at the right price for his team. “Those are two guys that gave us good service so for the right number, I’d like to have them back but I can’t tell you. I don’t know what that number is.”
The one saving grace for Kaberle’s marketability is the arid market for scoring defensemen. A team might be willing to take a chance on the Czech blueliner, assuming that he simply didn’t have enough time to acclimate himself to Claude Julien’s system in Boston. That being said, it would be surprising if he could earn a rise from his previous $4.25 million annual salary.
There might be a decent (but far from red-hot) market for Ryder, who had two nice playoff runs (13 points in 11 games in 2009; 17 in 25 in this year’s Cup run) and semi-decent numbers in his three years with Boston. It might be tough for him to garner a significant raise over his $4 million salary from 2010-11, though.
You never know how much logic NHL GMs will follow, though, so stay tuned.