July 12, 2010
In July 2008, when the circus was still in town, the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to trade defenseman Dan Boyle(notes) and his $40 million, six-year contract in order for management to have the financial flexibility it needed to run the franchise into the ground.
Problem was that Boyle's contract, which he had signed just five months earlier, carried a no-trade clause that Boyle had no intention of waiving.
Instead, the Lightning told him that had an intention of waiving him.
After that, Boyle was traded to the San Jose Sharks and bitterly spilled the details of the acrimonious split in the local papers. It was a bully tactic for a long-time veteran that deserved better -- but this was business.
So is the relationship between the Boston Bruins and Marc Savard(notes), which has gone from the comfort of a "lifetime" contract to Savard being asked to waive his no-trade clause. Like Boyle, Savard was given a sense of a permanence in his long-term contract; like Boyle, circumstances changed -- ownership in Tampa, Tyler Seguin(notes) in Boston -- and have necessitated a change in that immovability.
Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe looked at the Bruins and Savard on Sunday, and floated the trial balloon of his getting Boyle'd:
Savard remains attractive - several teams continue to kick the tires - because of his cap-friendly number ($4.007 million per season) and his projected production. Because of the full no-trade clause that activated July 1, Savard has the upper hand in dictating his destination (his three children live in Peterborough, Ontario).
But the Bruins could widen the scope by taking a drastic route: threatening to place Savard on waivers, thereby giving 29 teams, starting with Edmonton, a crack at claiming the center and rendering his no-trade irrelevant. It would be a last-resort move that would see a point-per-game center walk for nothing, with cap relief being the only benefit.
The real threat of waivers isn't just ending up in an undesirable NHL location (RE: Edmonton), but of clearing waivers and ending up as a $4 million a year minor leaguer. The chance the Bruins would do that to Savard are slim due to the finances, but the threat is real for any player.
So the potential is there for the Bruins to play hardball with Savard, knowing that they still have needs on the blue line and still need to free up cash for Seguin's deal.
It's difficult to imagine Savard going from a lifetime deal to a being asked to waive his no-trade clause to ending up on waivers. But we may not have to imagine it much longer.