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Bruins Sign Four Players With Salary Cap Space Dwindling

Peter Chiarelli (Globe Photo)

The NHL off-season wages on, and the Bruins remain one of the more active teams in the market. Thursday, GM Peter Chiarelli took care of some in-house business, inking four Bruins to new deals, including newly acquired Gregory Campbell, forward Jeff LoVecchio, and a pair of defensemen, Adam McQuaid and Andrew Bodnarchuk.

Campbell, who came to Boston via Florida as a part of the Nathan Horton-Dennis Wideman deal, signed a two-year deal with the B’s, as he projects to be the team’s fourth line center, filling the void left by Steve Begin’s departure. Gregory, son of NHL disciplinarian Colin, played in 60 games for the Panthers last season, scoring twice with 15 assists.

Of the other three signings, McQuaid is highest on the depth chart. The 23-year-old appeared in 19 regular season games for Boston this past season, along with filling in on the third blue line pairing in the playoffs after injuries sidelined a handful of his defensive teammates. His deal is also two years in length.

Bodnarchuk and LoVecchio, both of whom signed one-year contracts, will likely spend the upcoming season in Providence. Bodnarchuk played in five NHL games with Boston last season, while LoVecchio has yet to make his debut at the NHL level.

With these four guys now in tow with the team, GM Peter Chiarelli will turn his attention to restricted free agent Blake Wheeler and newly drafted forward Tyler Seguin. Per the NHL’s college bargaining agreement, Seguin’s rookie cap hit will go for $900,000. Wheeler, whose cap number was $2.82 million last season, is likely to come in at a similar figure if he reaches his arbitration hearing on July 27th. Once a salary decision is rendered on Wheeler, the B’s can elect to accept the figure or opt to turn it down, which would make the 23-year-old winger an unrestricted free agent. The team is currently working with Matt Keator, Wheeler’s agent, on ironing out a new deal before the July 27th hearing.

Adding Seguin and Wheeler’s cap numbers to the already lofty Bruins payroll would bring the team over the league’s salary cap mark of $59.4 million, forcing Chiarelli to make moves to get back under that number. Teams can carry up to 10% above the $59.4 mark (roughly $65 million) until the opening night of the season, when they have to return under that cap number.

Ideally, the front office will find a trade partner to help unload one of the team’s hefty veteran contracts, like that of Tim Thomas, Marc Savard, or Michael Ryder. Obviously though, all teams are in similar salary cap situations, and taking on big money for older players isn’t a practice teams are looking to make a habit of.

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