After their business trip to the City of Brotherly Love, the organization turned its attention to July 1, also known as Free Agent Frenzy Day, the day when teams can begin to sign free agents.
Boston, as expected, did not participate in the day's activities. However, it did lose leading goal scorer Jarome Iginla, who signed a three-year, $16 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Backup goaltender, Chad Johnson, departed for the New York Islanders and winger Shawn Thornton, who had been informed by Chiarelli soon after the playoffs ended that he would not be re-signed, found a new home in Sunrise, Florida as a member of the Panthers.
Losing Iginla was the biggest blow.
The veteran superstar had expressed a strong desire to remain in Boston, but due to salary cap issues, Chiarelli informed Iginla's agent, Don Meehan, that a deal could not be reached between the two sides and the future hall of famer left Boston Common for the Rocky Mountains.
"Well, I'm not going to get into the details, but yes, I was," Chiarelli answered when asked if he tried to clear cap space in order to keep Iginla. "And at the end, I made a decision that I felt that there were moves I could have made that at the end I didn't want to make. I thought it was for the betterment of the organization, of the team, not to do it and that's kind of where it's stood.
"We've got [David] Krejci coming up, we've got [Milan] Lucic coming up, we've got Johnny [Boychuk] coming up (as unrestricted free agents after 2015 or 2016), we have the two young guys, Torey [Krug] and Reilly [Smith], we've got Dougie [Hamilton], Carl [Soderberg]. We've got a lot of stuff, these are good players so I have to be cognizant of that, so that is one of the reasons why we didn't do it and I decided to not make those moves. I didn't want to really jeopardize not being able to re-sign the other guys."
In a conference call with the Boston media conducted on July 1, the GM was asked if he will try to acquire a top six forward to replace Iginla through the free agent route.
"Well, there are a couple of players that I think could fit in, in the one, two or three hole," he said. "That's a testament to the other two wingers or the other two forwards on that specific line. I like Reilly [Smith] where he is and that's probably where he is going to stay. But the other two spots you can move up and down.
"You've got a good center in Carl [Soderberg], you've got a good center in David [Krejci] and I feel that you could mix and match with a little bit. I'd like a right shot, at the end of the day we're okay because you just wonder about the powerplay a little bit. There's a lot of very effective left-shot wingers. We have two of them. It's just about the versatility on the powerplay where you'd like a guy who can maybe shoot it a little better with a right shot.
"So, to answer your question, I'm not looking (for a top six forward) -- I'm looking for someone who can play in the top nine."
Of course, there are players down on the farm, also known as, the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, and Chiarelli knows that some may be ready for the NHL.
"That's the cap world. I know we were under the cap this year for overage reasons, but you've got to turn over stuff," he said. "You've got to keep a core and you've got to turn over players.
"It's a testament to the players that we have -- the ones that we have to move out. We're going to lose some next summer. I just see the numbers, where guys are going. Players have to keep bubbling up. We've seen what happens to other teams, or what's going to happen to other teams that really have to put all of their money in a certain group. You have to change, and you have to change quickly.
"Having said that, there are a number of players that can fit in that mix. It may be that a guy like [Daniel] Paille gets moved up. It may be that a guy like a Matt Fraser plays the other side. We've got -- I don't know if Seth [Griffith] is quite ready; he had a terrific year. It may be that we have to put one of the centermen on the wing, and we’ve tried that with Koko [Alexander Khokhlachev]. We’ve tried it a little bit with Spoons [Ryan Spooner]. It may be that we have to put [Chris] Kelly on the wing and put one of the young kids in the middle. There’s a lot of ways you can look at it. I see four or five guys that are going to vie for two spots, as of right now, and I’m kind of excited about it. I like the way it ended up last year, with the competition, and I’m kind of excited about this year.
"Again, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking to try and improve our team and to try and find our right winger. We’ve got extra D, we’ve got D that teams covet, so this is Day 1 of maybe 30 or 40 that you try and improve your team."
Throughout the off season, rumors have swirled around Beantown that Boychuk may be on the move clearing cap space and reducing the amount of NHL defenseman on the roster. The rumors are gaining traction with each passing day as TFP reported on Wednesday that the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche have expressed interest in the 30-year-old blueliner.
Boychuk has shown steady improvement since joining the Bruins in 2008 in a trade with the Avalanche. He was, arguably, Boston's best rearguard in the post-season and losing him would force Dougie Hamilton to take on more on ice responsibilities. Hamilton played with confidence and dominated some shifts against Detroit and Montreal in the playoffs. He is ready to be a prime time player.
According to CapGeek.com, 71 Unrestricted Free Agents were signed for a total of $540,300,00 as of July 3, 2014.
The Bruins were not entirely silent in July 1. They signed defenseman Christoper Breen. The 25-year-old has been in the Calgary Flames minor league system for five seasons. He appeared in nine NHL games last season with the Flames registering two assists.
By not trading players with the goal of being able to re-sign Iginla, Chiarelli has kept the core of a Stanley Cup contender in place. If all things were equal, the forward would be returning to Boston but in the salary cap world of today's NHL, the GM was force to make a difficult decision and let his career 560 goal scorer go to Colorado.
As he mentioned, Chiarelli may still make a deal or two. He knows it/they may not be popular but he, like all GMs, works tirelessly to improve his team. Something he has done year in and year out since taking over for Mike O'Connell in 2006.
"I'm always trying to improve this team," Chiarelli continued. "So, we're always talking and speaking with teams and sometimes stuff falls through the cracks and then you have to react and that's what the rest of the summer will be and that's how we'll approach it."
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.