The Bruins announced today that they have agreed to a 7-year contract extension with center Marc Savard that will keep the playmaker in "The Hub of Hockey" through the 2016-'17 season. Per team policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TSN is reporting that the deal has an average annual cap hit of $4.2 million.
Normally, a 7-year contract for a 32 year-old player isn't the wisest move, however I think this is smart move by Peter Chierelli and the Boston Bruins. This extension ensures that the nucleus of this team stays in Boston for at least the next few seasons and it also allowed the Bruins to sign Savard at a much lower annual cap hit than expected. Savard currently makes $5 million per season at a $5 million cap hit. The way the NHL salary cap works, a team only takes the average annual salary (plus bonuses in some cases) for the life of a contract as the team's annual cap hit for that player. This means that teams can front-load contracts, giving players more money in the first years of their contract. This lowers the team's annual cap hit and helps eliminate some of the risks associated with signing a player to a long-term contract. My guess is that the Bruins did just that and Savard will make more than $4.2 million next season and less in the later years of his contract, although the details of the deal are not yet known.
The team has scheduled a press conference for 11:15 Wednesday morning at TD Garden to discuss the deal. GM Peter Chiarelli, Head Coach Claude Julien, and Marc Savard will be on hand to speak with the media.
UPDATE (7:45 PM): Bob McKenzie of TSN is reporting via Twitter that Marc Savard's contract breaks down as follows:
Year 1: $7 million
Year 2: $7 million
Year 3: $6.5 million
Year 4: $5 million
Year 5: $1.5 million
Year 6: $525,000
Year 7: $525,000
This contract structure offers very little risk during the later years of the contract and actually allows the Bruins to cut almost $1 million off their annual cap hit starting next season. If this is in fact how the contract is setup, it is a brilliant deal by PC & Co.