Skating in circles for now
Unsigned Marchand joins Bruin workout
WILMINGTON - The big-bucks payday that Bruins winger Brad Marchand hoped to score has yet to materialize. Wade Arnott, Marchand’s agent, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli remain in negotiations over a potential contract, the parameters of which are unknown except to the principals.
Marchand remains without a deal. But that technicality didn’t prevent the fiery winger from skating at Ristuccia Arena yesterday alongside 20 of his teammates as they prepare to kick off their defense of the Stanley Cup.
“I’m anxious for it to be done,’’ Marchand said. “I just want to be here and be on the ice with the guys. That’s all I’m looking forward to.’’
With the start of training camp just a week away (rookies report for physicals and fitness testing today, veterans next Friday), signing Marchand is the franchise’s top priority. During Chiarelli’s time as GM, only one player was not signed before camp started: Phil Kessel.
By coincidence, Arnott also represents Kessel, who was traded to Toronto on Sept. 18, 2009. The situations are not similar. Kessel, the fifth overall pick in 2006, was coming off a 36-goal season, didn’t have a good relationship with coach Claude Julien, and showed little interest in remaining a Bruin.
Marchand, selected 65 slots after Kessel, has repeatedly expressed his affinity for the city and the organization. Although Marchand is a Cup winner and scored 11 playoff goals, he has only one full NHL season on his résumé.
Marchand is not believed to be seeking the five-year, $27 million bounty Kessel pried from the Maple Leafs. In all likelihood, Marchand will earn a two-year deal worth approximately $5 million, which will give him arbitration rights when the extension expires.
Marchand, however, might not sign until camp starts.
“I’m not thinking that far ahead right now,’’ said Marchand. “It’s just day to day. Hopefully it’s done before then.’’
Neither side wants a holdout. The Bruins need Marchand, the projected No. 2 left wing, in their lineup from camp’s opening to regain the rhythm he found last year with Patrice Bergeron. Marchand, only 23, can rake in a bigger haul with his next deal if he remains patient and signs a bridge contract.
If an agreement cannot be reached, there will be many players who need little prompting to vie for Marchand’s spot. It could be just the opportunity that camp invitee Chris Clark needs to catch management’s attention.
Yesterday, youngsters Jamie Arniel and Max Sauve were among the 12 forwards going through the paces. Arniel (23-27-50 for Providence last year) was one of the Black Aces who practiced with the big team during the Cup run. Sauve scored 21 goals for Providence last season.
Second-year pro Jordan Caron will be looking to make the NHL roster out of camp for the second straight season. Veteran Trent Whitfield should be the Providence captain, but he’d be happy to give up the “C’’ to break camp in Boston. Zach Hamill is a natural center. But during the summer, Providence coach Bruce Cassidy noted that Hamill might have to play on the wing to open more eyes.
Also in the mix are teenagers Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight. Both are likely to return to junior this season. But Spooner made it deep into camp last year and is looking to stay even longer this fall.
“If you’re going to play, play well enough, and earn a spot, we’ll make room for you,’’ said Chiarelli, repeating the message he tells his young players every year. “Practically speaking, that’s a tough thing to do with a Cup-winning team.’’
Historically, Chiarelli has made room for rookies. Last year, Tyler Seguin made the jump from junior to the NHL, although the Bruins had projected the teenager to make the roster.
In 2008, Blake Wheeler made the team out of camp. As a result, veteran Peter Schaefer was placed on waivers.
A year earlier, Milan Lucic opened eyes by making the big club instead of returning to junior. Lucic’s emergence led to Mark Mowers being traded in camp.
As Chiarelli noted, the defending champs have little room for movement. Tomas Kaberle signed with Carolina, Mark Recchi retired, and Michael Ryder signed with Dallas. Joe Corvo should slot into Kaberle’s vacancy. Ex-Canadien Benoit Pouliot should claim a spot on the wing, but the underachieving forward is not guaranteed a job.
That would leave one forward opening. A second one, via a Marchand holdout, would be just fine with the aspirants.
Restricted free agent Andrew Bodnarchuk signed a one-year extension yesterday, leaving Marchand as the only player without a contract. According to capgeek.com, Bodnarchuk will earn $635,250 in NHL salary. Bodnarchuk will make $67,500 if he plays for Providence, where he is projected to start the season. The 23-year-old defenseman scored one goal and added 15 assists in 75 games for Providence last year. The defensive-minded Bodnarchuk has appeared in five NHL games . . . Zdeno Chara was a close friend and neighbor of Pavol Demitra, the former NHLer who died in Wednesday’s plane crash in Yaroslavl, Russia. “Pavol was a guy who was always easygoing and always very friendly with everybody, never had conflicts with anybody,’’ said Chara. “He was really a favorite and popular guy between other guys. We all know he was an extremely talented player. People probably don’t know how dedicated a dad he was.’’
The players who skated at Ristuccia yesterday: Chara, Corvo, Marchand, Lucic, Seguin, Arniel, Sauve, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Steven Kampfer, Colby Cohen, Shawn Thornton, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, David Krejci, Craig Cunningham, and Michael Hutchinson . . . Rookies have their first practice today at noon at Ristuccia . . . The first two official practices of camp on Sept. 17-18 at TD Garden will be free and open to the public. The rink will open at 9:30 a.m. All other camp practices at the Garden will be closed.