WILMINGTON, MA – As the NHL’s free agency period gets into gear on July 1, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli predicts a slow summer Sunday.
“My gut is telling me that we’ll be quiet,” said Chiarelli. “That’s my gut.
“Now if you look at as to how we’ve built our team over the years -- but for my first year…when we signed Ryder -– we haven’t really gone out and hit a couple home runs on July 1.
“And I said this earlier [this offseason], maybe I look at the trade market after the July 1, but my gut is I’ll probably be quiet.”
However, there will be at least two contracts to sign, as the B’s boss has two deals completed in principle – restricted free agent goalie Tuukka Rask and prospect forward Alexander Khokhlachev will take pen to paper on Sunday.
“You know, as general managers, we all try to be proactive,” said Chiarelli when asked if he were surprised about signings around the league. “We all try and project; we all try and get ahead of it so that’s what you’re seeing and every year, I’m asked the same question, ‘Am I surprised at the enormity of the numbers?’
“It’s just - players get better and they deserve to earn more. Now in the bigger scheme of things…obviously we’re at the end of our CBA and that has to be dealt with, but nothing surprises me anymore.”
Chiarelli said the expiring CBA is taken into account as he looks at deals, but it’s not the only factor.
“Believe it or not, I’m trying to be cautious and trying to keep the team together,” said the GM. “So, I like the flexibility we have going forward.
“I’m trying to operate under that [cap] number,” added Chiarelli when asked if he is balancing assumptions about a new NHL labor deal while working under the current pact. “I’m a shade under it now.
“Keeping the team together is a priority, and then if for whatever reason the cap goes down a significant number, then we have to deal with it and we feel that we have very good players that if we have to move players around, then we can do that.
“I would hope that we don’t do that, but short answer is yes, I’m trying to be cautious, stay under that number,” he said.
In reference to the one-year deal that Rask is ready to sign, Chiarelli was also asked if he liked shorter contracts.
“You know, I don’t mind having contracts expire,” said the GM. “Then we make decisions on players they want to prove to me –- to us -– that they want to stay. So whether it’s one-year deals or two-year deals, I don’t mind shorter deals.
“We’ve obviously given longer deals too," continued Chiarelli. "But to Tuukka’s credit, too, he wanted this done and he wanted to prove to me -- and he told me he wanted to prove to me [his worth] -- and he could have went out and tried to do [arbitration] and test the free agency and he’s not.
“I mean, he wants to be a member of the Boston Bruins for a long time and I like to hear that.”