Peter Chiarelli. (Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, Tenn. – At the first intermission of the Bruins’ rookie game against the Lightning, general manager Peter Chiarelli discussed the team’s NHL roster and where things stand going forward.
The biggest takeaways were that David Pastrnak could begin training camp on the right wing of David Krejci‘s line, that he will not sign all of his free-agents-to-be and that he will trade a defenseman at some point. Chiarelli offered no update on the status of Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, both of whom remain unsigned with days left until camp.
With Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg the biggest names entering the final years of their contracts and the Bruins having $49,897,857 against the cap committed to 10 players (not counting Marc Savard) for 2015-16, money figures to be tight going forward. The last time the Bruins had multiple players to sign and a potential cap crunch ahead, Chiarelli opted to sign all three players (Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchands, all of whom were a year away from restricted free agency) with the idea that if he had to trade one down the road, he would.
Chiarelli said he won’t go the sign-everyone route this time. The team recently signed David Krejci to a six-year, $43.5 million extension.
“I can’t sign everybody, and I’d love to sign everybody, but we can’t for the numbers that they want,” Chiarelli said. “Before, when I said we’d like to lock up guys. We still would, and we can with our cap. We make a decision on Krej, and that’s a big number. Some things you have to let play out, and we have to be a little versatile ourselves when it comes to team-building and we’re forced to do that this year.
“Am I going to try to sign all these guys? We look at all these guys, we look at different lineups going forward into the year. As the year progresses, we look and I think we’re going to take more time.”
Historically, Chiarelli has signed his key free-agents-to-be before they enter their contract’s final seasons. Boychuk knows that his future is uncertain and recently expressed that he does not want to be traded.
“I’ve always tried to get the team together signed and get them in place and give them a level of security,’ Chiarelli said. ‘I always feel that with that, they will perform. Of course, I’ve got to see the performance to get to that point. They’ve seen that we’ve tried to keep this team together as much as we can; we’ve had a lot of success with this group of guys. Around the fringes, guys have to go, but they’ve seen us try and [keep the team together], so they know our intentions are noble, so now it’s not quite ideal where we can keep the band together, so to speak.
“I think they understand that we always want to ice a Cup-winning team, and with that comes some casualties. This year, I’m looking forward to it, to a certain degree; there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of spots, including ‘ you don’t wish one of these D men to be traded, but we just have too many D men. At some point, I’m going to have to do it, and all the teams in the league, most of the teams in the league would like one of these defensemen.
“And I know everyone’s waiting, ‘What move will [he] make? What move will [he] make?’ Well, I have to see what’s going to happen, see who fits well with whom, but the uncertainty is something this year that is a byproduct of the cap and a successful team and locking up those guys, and eventually there’s other guys that are just going to get too expensive. I don’t cast any dispersions on them for being at that level, but that’s what it’s at.”