The Bruins will issue at least two buyouts today, with veteran forwards Shawn McEachern and Travis Green the likeliest to go, and assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said yesterday a number of 2005-06 roster players, including the likes of Hal Gill and Brian Leetch, will not be offered free agent contracts any time soon -- if at all.
``We won't make an offer to any of [the club's free agents] in the next 24-48 hours," Gorton said yesterday, in the moments immediately following the Garden news conference at which Dave Lewis was named the club's 27th head coach. ``We've told all of them, `Go to market and see what you can get, and we'll talk after that.' "
That isn't exactly like saying, ``Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out," but it does say the Bruins are comfortable with losing any of the many unrestricted free agents who finished the regular season with them in April.
Gill and Leetch, two of the Bruins' regular defensemen who combined to make nearly $6 million last season, are the bigger names in the free agent bunch. Theoretically, the Bruins tomorrow could commit that $6 million to a first-line forward or a top-pairing defenseman.
It also would cover nearly all of Chris Pronger's $6.2 million, if the Bruins could swing a deal for the Oiler defenseman, who asked out of Edmonton immediately after the Stanley Cup finals.
Boston's other unrestricted free agents who won't see offers any time soon: Marty Reasoner, Brad Isbister, Jiri Slegr, Mariusz Czerkawski, Tom Fitzgerald, Dan LaCouture, and Ian Moran.
The club will make the buyouts public today, said Gorton, only adding that there would be more than one termination issued.
McEachern's buyout, at a one-third discount from the $1.1 million he has coming in 2006-07, has been considered a fait accompli since early last season, when he was demoted to Providence (AHL). He was recalled at the end of the season, after Mike O'Connell was fired as GM, but produced little offense.
Green, due $700,000 next season, also produced little last year. In the midst of a bad year, his name was also linked, though tangentially, to the Janet Gretzky-Rick Tocchet gambling scandal that hit just prior to the Olympic Games in February.
The Globe also reported recently that Green was arrested on a drunken driving charge at the Charlestown Navy Yard (which was later dropped).
There remains a chance the Bruins also will issue buyout papers to Alexei Zhamnov, he of the 10 points in 24 games. However, Zhamnov's agent contends that the Russian forward remains disabled after badly fracturing an ankle at midseason.
Injured players cannot be bought out, per the league's collective bargaining agreement. But it is also true that a club is prohibited from issuing a buyout once the two-week buyout period closes on the eve of July 1 each year.
One possibility is that the Bruins issue the buyout, essentially as a formality, ultimately the first step in the 35-year-old Zhamnov being erased from the books, be it via buyout, arbitration, disability payment, or retirement.
All in all, it is possible the Bruins begin next season with only a handful of players -- Glen Murray, P.J. Axelsson, Brad Boyes, Patrice Bergeron, and Hannu Toivonen -- who made the club out of training camp last season.
But the news release announcing Lewis as the new man made note that both Cashman and Maciver were dismissed.
``That was a little bit of miscommunication," explained Gorton, noting that Lewis already has other people in mind for the positions. ``I thought they'd get an opportunity to talk -- but I was wrong."
Goaltending coach Bob Essensa remains on the job. Lewis wasn't certain if Essensa would be retained, or if he would have a netminding coach.
``It's a unique position," said Lewis. ``And I don't know a lot about it -- you stop the puck or you don't."
For now, said Lewis, Essensa is the goalie coach.
Meanwhile, look for Marc Habscheid, currently a coach with the Canadian national team, soon to be named one of Lewis's assistants. Gil Scott, Lewis's agent, is also Habscheid's agent.