Bruins actively shopping Savard

It appears as if there are some legs to the rumors that the Boston Bruins are looking to trade away their top-line center Marc Savard. Reports have surfaced that Savard, who signed a seven-year contract extension with the Bruins in December 2009, will waive his no-trade clause if it means being dealt to the Ottawa Senators or Toronto Maple Leafs – two teams that could have some legitimate interest in Savard’s services.

After drafting Tyler Seguin at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft this past weekend, the Bruins have too many bodies at center and need to clear a player in order to fit Seguin into the lineup. The 32-year-old Savard looks to be the odd man out. While some aspects of this move make sense, other aspects would make any fan scratch their head with wonder.

Savard’s seven-year contract extension carried with it a $4.2 million cap hit, which is quite reasonable for a center of his abilities. While somewhat injury-prone, Savard has managed 70 or more points in four of his last five seasons. In two of those seasons he registered 90 or more points. Last year, during a season in which Savard only played in 41 games, the gifted center still tallied 33 points – and that’s playing without a legitimate winger on his side.

For comparisons sake, Jason Spezza, who has registered similar numbers over the past several seasons, makes roughly $7 million a season. If Savard took a “hometown discount” to finish his career with the Bruins, it seems quite disrespectful that the Bruins would turn around and send Savard and his friendly cap hit elsewhere. It’s especially disrespectful when you consider that Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron accounts for a slightly larger cap hit of $4.75 million per season and has been considerably less productive over the same time period. Granted, Bergeron has dealt with several significant injuries, but Savard is a proven commodity and a veteran player. Why not look to trade away Bergeron and keep Savard?

Well, the answer is in the numbers. Bergeron is younger at 24 years old and does have a huge offensive upside when he is healthy. Savard also makes for tasty trade bait with the numbers he is capable of producing offensively coupled with a low salary cap hit. The Bruins are currently $4.7 million under the cap. If they move Savard and his $4.2 million cap hit, as well as goaltender Tim Thomas and his $5 million cap hit (which they are definitely expected to do), then the Bruins all of a sudden have roughly $13 million to bring in a scoring winger or general scoring depth on the wings with money leftover to replace Dennis Wideman on defense. Heck, Boston management is probably licking their chops at the thought of being able to make a legitimate offer to unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk.

If a trade is to happen, the Maple Leafs would seem like a logical destination for Savard for several reasons. First, Savard has a history playing with Phil Kessel. They have made magic together before and I doubt that Maple Leafs GM Brian Bruke could resist the temptation to pair them together again. Burke has also stated several times over the past few weeks that he wants to add offense this summer. Tons and tons of offense. Well, a healthy Savard paired with Kessel could bring about 80-90 points out of Savard. Second, the Leafs are still looking to trade Kaberle and, as I’ve already stated, the Bruins will look to replace Wideman. Could a Kaberle-for-Savard deal be in the works? It would seem mutually beneficial to both teams.

With the free agent frenzy beginning in just a few short days, if there is a deal to be done expect it to happen soon. Both teams involved in the trade will want to hash out the details and get their ducks in a row before free agency begins so that they can figure out what pieces they still need to put into place this summer.

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