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.