July 5th is going to be a very nerve wracking day for the Boston Bruins organization. According to Capgeek.com , the Boston Bruins have $ 5,803,690 (US) cap space left to play with. The only problem with that list is that it is lacking some very noticeable names with a dollar sign attached to them. In some cases, like Jaromir Jagr, Jay Pandolfo, and (very sadly) Andrew Ference, they have been told that due to the CBA’s restrictions on the cap, there will be no way that they can remain in a Bruins uniform. Others will have to be decided by a very number conscious GM, Boston’s Peter Chiarelli.
(Andrew Ference was one of those players that toiled in the eleventh hour to help seal a deal between the NHL and the players union. It’s a particularly bitter irony that a man that fought so hard for his team on and off the ice against all sorts of foes will be one of the first to be felled by the agreement he worked so hard to secure.)
A few very serious, and likely ugly choices are going to be made in the very near future. The two big players on the list are Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask.
Last year, Rask signed a one-year, three and a half million dollar contract with the Bruins. All sides knew that Tuukka was playing this year for a big number, long term contract going into the 2013-14 season. Rask played a very good regular season (19-10-5 w/ 5 SO, .929 save% 2.00 GAA) and an outstanding post season (14-8-3 w/ 3 SO, .940 save % 1.88 GAA). He’s our new number one net minder, and will have to paid like the elite goaltender that he is. But in doing this, a majority of the cap space will be lost. Tuukka is asking for a six year, thirty nine million dollar contract (at least), and if the Bruins want to keep him, they won’t be able to negotiate him that far down which leads me to one very sad conclusion.
It is likely we could lose Nathan Horton in a last second trade at the draft, or in the perilous currents of free agency. I don’t link thinking it, I don’t like saying it, and I’m not entirely thrilled typing it out right now. But it is a very real and serious possibility that Bruins Nation may have to face in the next week. Nathan Horton was our warrior in the 2011 Stanley Cup run. He was on my radar for the way he played with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He was an outstanding forward for us that year. When we lost him in game three of the finals, he still found himself a way to be made known. His spraying of TD Garden ice water on Vancouver’s rink stuck in my head as one of the pivotal incidental moments of the series.
Perhaps Peter Chiarelli can weave a little more magic for us. He’s pulled some rather impressive rabbits out of his hate so far. I’m just fearing even Chiarelli will succumb to the numbers game and make another choice (like Ference) that he’s not going to like to do, but for the sake of the franchise have to do.