The Bruins may have an unexpected means to clear some coveted salary cap space -- allow Tyler Seguin to wear the Canadian Maple Leaf at the World Junior Championships to be held Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 at Buffalo, N.Y.
“I haven’t heard either way,” Seguin said Tuesday afternoon as to whether he’d be allowed to play in the tournament.
But a team source said later in the day that the Bruins may be willing to let Seguin play for his country and achieve a lifelong dream after being skipped over for last year’s World Juniors. If the Bruins allow Seguin to go to camp and play in the tournament, his salary would not count against the cap for the time he was away.
The hope was that Seguin would be a key cog for the Bruins by Dec. 15, when camp starts. While the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft has shown moments of offensive brilliance, he has struggled with coach Claude Julien’s defensive system and his playing time has been inconsistent as a result. Julien has openly said that at times he isn’t comfortable matching Seguin up with opponents’ top lines.
With Marc Savard’s return imminent, the team soon will have five centers. The Bruins have used Seguin on the wing recently and say they have no qualms about doing so for the remainder of the season. But they figure to get winger Marco Sturm back some time in the next few weeks. Sturm said Tuesday there is still no definitive timetable for his return, but when he comes back the Bruins will need to clear between $3.1 million and $3.2 million in cap space, according to capgeek.com.
Meanwhile, fellow rookie forward Jordan Caron seems to be slowing down as of late and also has lost the jump and impact he had in the first month of the season. Perhaps he could benefit from a stint in the AHL, in the same way the World Juniors experience could help Seguin.
Those two moves combined with a trade of Daniel Paille, whom sources have confirmed to ESPNBoston.com is being shopped, could nearly clear the space needed for Sturm. According to Capgeek.com, the cost of Seguin and Caron, with their bonuses rolled back, combined with Paille is $2.835 million against the cap. That would get the Bruins within $265,000 of where they need to be, potentially buying the team some time to see if Sturm is truly healthy and general manager Peter Chiarelli time to find another solution.
The Bruins also could decide Seguin would be better served going back to his junior club for the rest of the season, but that seems highly unlikely.
Sending Seguin to the World Junior Championships, however, could benefit Seguin, who while not necessarily out of place is struggling to keep up with the pace and physical demands of the NHL, in addition to helping Chiarelli find a long-term solution.