Monday, July 20, 2009

Breaking news: Hunwick signs for 2 years just reported that Matt Hunwick has signed a 2-year deal with Boston to avoid arbitration. Not much detail readily available, but I'm going to throw out a few educated guesses:

1) Hunwick's agent advised him to take a last-chance deal before going to arbitration, meaning he probably settled in the range of $1.6-1.75m/yr. I don't see him settling for less, but I don't see him getting any more on Friday so this was probably the best deal for all concerned. [ed: The Bruins made out better than I expected -- Hunwick's deal will average $1.45m/yr. This is a great deal for the Bruins, who can use every quarter-mil they can squeeze under the cap.]

2) This means that if Hunwick's career continues to arc upward, he will be in for an enormous payday in two years. The Bruins will have to make some very difficult decisions if that happens.

3) Expect movement on Phil Kessel in the near future. Hunwick was the only other question-mark on the 2010 roster, so Peter Chiarelli is now dealing with an absolute cap number.

Until today, I'd imagine that the dialogue between Chiarelli and Kessel was nothing but posturing. Now there's no point in kidding each other -- either Boston can afford to retain him or they can't. Chiarelli simply needs to know how much Kessel is willing to play for, and whether that number can be achieved by moving a player or two to another team.

If I'm right about Hunwick's new cap hit, my back-of-a-napkin tally has the Bruins at $54.6 million committed to this season, with a $56.8 million cap ceiling. Kessel will likely not sign any contract for less than $4m per season, and it's pretty clear that he wants to shoot for $5m if possible.

My expectation: within the next two weeks Chiarelli will find a taker for Chuck Kobasew, moving $2.3m off the roster. He'll offer Kessel $4.3m for 2 years, leaving just the slightest bit of space under the cap ceiling. And then we'll start talking about next season's cap crisis.

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