Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thinking Out Loud: Savard and Thomas

In some regards, I find it somewhat puzzling that the Boston Bruins are going to try and move a couple of their long-term assets in both Marc Savard and Tim Thomas. I'm sure signing these long-term deals with these players were good ideas at the time, a 7-year contract extension in December for Savard and a 4-year deal in April 2009 for Thomas. On the other hand, both players are already into their mid-30's and haven't had the best track records beyond some really good flashes, some longer than others, in each player's career.

With Savard, the Bruins have his entire contract extension looming over him, his head was knocked three ways from Sunday during the regular season on a massive hit, their depth at centre is getting to be something else after drafting Tyler Seguin and the team does have its fair share of cap issues, so the long-term prognosis on Marc Savard is not good staying with the Bruins.  The reports coming out after the Entry Draft concluded was that Savard, who has a no-trade clause at the moment in his deal, has said that he would waive the clause, but only if it was a deal that would land him either in Toronto or in Ottawa, two of the Bruins' division rivals.

Well, isn't this a fine pickle jar that the Bruins have backed themselves into?  Really, I'm going to stick this one on the Bruins management bowing down to the demands of Savard and company, who obviously wanted some security in a 7-year deal, just to get the deal done and questions lifted for the remainder of the year.  If your team's blueprint is to include centres and by December 1st, you already had a feeling you were going to get a very good pick out of Toronto from the Phil Kessel deal, then why would you sign Savard to a longer, very long-term deal like this?  That's poor foresight.  On top of all of that, Savard will only okay a deal to go to a team that could potentially screw the Bruins, strict use of the word potentially, which also looks pretty bad on this situation.  Both the Maple Leafs and the Senators are the two teams that Savard would okay a deal to, but we all know what their situations are like at the moment and it might be a while before they do a lot of damage to the Bruins in the regular season.

At $4.2 million a season against the cap, Savard has almost a Rick DiPietro-like deal... a long-term deal with a cap hit that can either look like a bargain when the player is healthy all year and performing to his highest level or an anchor around the team's neck, if the player cannot stay consistently healthy and can't perform at the highest level.  It's all quite relative, to be honest.  Both the Maple Leafs and the Senators are in good cap positions to take on a guy like Savard, even if the Bruins shuffle him off for next to nothing, now that they are in selling mode and everything (or all things Savard) must go.

If a deal is to go down with Savard leaving Boston, I would be awfully surprised if it positively impacts the Bruins in the end.

Tim Thomas is not as curious of a case as Savard is, especially since the Bruins gave the veteran netminder his new deal after he won the Vezina Trophy for being voted the best goaltender in the entire league.  The best thing for any team taking on Thomas would be that the Bruins only signed him to a 4-year deal and that he was Tuukka Rask's back-up for the better part of the first year of that deal. 

The only reason Thomas is out the door is really because of Rask and his play through the season and into the playoffs, the Bruins don't really want to keep a back-up with a starter's contract in their organization and it's hard to blame them. I wouldn't say that the contract that Thomas received before free agency is bad business, they had to hedge their bets against Rask being the goaltender he was in 2010, especially with a Vezina Trophy winner already getting the reps in net.

With three years left and a cap hit of $5 million per season, Thomas is on the more expensive end of the salary cap scale, but fortunately for the Bruins, there are a number of teams that should be interested in Thomas' abilities, despite the contract.  My goaltending holes in the NHL post would see to that.  The Bruins could just as easily use one of these team's need for a top end goaltender to their advantage, especially since most of them have the cap room to spare. 

Thomas does have a no-trade and no-movement clause in his deal, but since the Bruins are already pointing at Rask for being their number one guy going forward, Thomas can look at this situation, say that he wants more minutes and a number one job and gladly accept a trade to somewhere else.  That's a very plausible situation.

The rumour mill has a number of teams interested in Thomas, but the Bruins may not be able to figure out a trade until the market value has been set on a few other goalenders in the league, or the demand level for a starting goalie for that matter.  The chances of Thomas getting dealt look pretty good to me from where I'm sitting.

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