Since the start of the free agent period, Marc Savard has been stuck at the center of the rumor mill. He has been linked to teams such as Toronto, Columbus, and Calgary; all of them are rumored to be interested in his services.
However, his current team—the Boston Bruins—who just signed him this past season to a seven-year deal, including a no-trade clause, may be in need of his services more than anyone in the NHL.
So how come they don’t realize it?
Despite signing a new contract just last season, Marc Savard remains trade bait. But much to the delight of B’s fans, the market for Savvy has dried up as of late, which means he’ll most likely be wearing the Black and Gold come opening night in Prague.
Even if management doesn’t realize what he does for the team, and how important a piece he is to the organization, us fans certainly do. So without further delay, here are 10 reasons the Bruins should do everything they can to keep Marc Savard.
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Marc Savard made it no secret that he wants to remain in Boston for the rest of his playing career and ultimately retire a Bruin.
Well, he got one step closer to being able to do so last year, when he signed a fresh seven-year deal with the club that would keep him locked up until he’s 39—about the time when most NHL forwards call it quits.
"Myself coming into the league I had a lot of growing pains to go through. Coming into the league I played with the Rangers and we had a lot of stars and obviously it was hard for me to make a name there. I went to Calgary and got a great opportunity to play.
"When I moved on to Atlanta that’s where things started to get a lot better. Obviously Coach Hartley really helped me out and I owe him a lot to him–especially in the early stages—because he basically told me there’s the ball right there and if you want to take it then just go."
"He gave me a lot of ice time and I was able to succeed there before I moved on to Boston, where I’m happy and I hope that I can finish out my career here and keep getting better."
When is the last time a player of Savard’s caliber has uttered such words? It’s nice to hear that he wants to stay, and that he’s finally getting some recognition for his improving a team-oriented game.
Where else are you going to find a potential 90-point playmaker for the discount price of $4.2 million a year? Only in Boston.
In the middle months of last year’s NHL season, the Bruins' management and Savard agreed on a seven-year deal worth just over $28 million—which would pay him $4.2 million annually.
That number leaves him with a less-expensive cap hit than Daymond Langkow, Martin Erat, David Legwand, and Tim Connolly—company not at the same level as that of Savard.
The bottom line is that there aren’t any better players out there for the money. In fact, there are very few worse players for that kind of money, so the Bruins looking to move his contract could prove to be a costly mistake, one that could have an immediate negative impact on this season.
We all know the club is tight up against the cap, but they have plenty of other options before moving Savard’s contract. (ie. Michael Ryder, Tim Thomas)
So while it’s understandable they need to free up cap space in order to sign newly-drafted Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler, who will be entering his third NHL season, Savard is not the best choice.
If trading Savard wouldn’t leave such an enormous void in the team’s offense, then parting with the playmaking center would be a pill much easier to swallow.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Over the course of just one season, the B’s dropped from second in the league in goals per game to the bottom of the barrel—just another reason ridding them of Savard would prove very costly.
They need all the offensive help they can get, and trading away your best offensive player isn’t the way to get your struggling offensive attack back on track.
With a sub-par offense, the team needs to look to add firepower, not lose virtually the only form of it they have.
In 41 games with Savard, the B’s scored an average of 2.54 goals per game. In the 28 games without him, their goals per game dipped to 2.19—a difference of about a half a goal per game when Savard was out of the lineup.
And while they have made additions such as Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin to address their scoring woes, Savard has proven himself to be the keystone of the once high-powered offense—who without, the system crumbles.
The man-advantage numbers with and without Savard are like night and day, which is expected because Savard is the pivot man for the Bruins' man advantage.
The B’s were 33-of-152 on the power play when Savard was on the ice, a 21.7 percent success rate. Without him they were a dismal 7-for-72, for a mere 9.7 percent success rate.
If they were to take their percentage without Savard alone, the Bruins would be in dead last in power-play percentage by over five percent—the Coyotes are dead last with a 14.9 percent success rate.
The numbers don’t lie; without Savard, their power play lacks that goal-scoring punch, and becomes much less of a threat. As the season went on without him, it seemed the B’s got scored on more on their power play than they actually scored.
They don’t have a replacement pivot-man just yet, as David Krejci slumped a bit last season due to hip-surgery and a rushed return, so he may not be ready just yet to take on that new role.
On top of being considered a selfish player—how a “pass-first” player is selfish is a discussion for another day—Savard was also knocked for his offense only style of play.
But since coming to Boston, the Bruin’s coaching staff and executives have applauded Savard’s efforts to become a more two-way hockey player.
His work has paid off, earning him time on the penalty kill this year—doing efficient work, I might add.
Having a more well-rounded game makes him even more of a key piece to the puzzle here in the Hub, and a puzzle without any piece, none the less one of its key pieces, is a puzzle unfinished.
And while it may get you so far, until you find the right mix of players that perfectly complement one another—much like the bonds Savvy has made with much of his teammates—it will never be good enough for that deep playoff run, or to hoist the Stanley Cup.
This is one of the more obvious reasons, but a crucial reason none the less. Marc Savard is among the elite passers in the league.
In company such as Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Henrik Sedin, and Martin St. Loius, Savard has established himself as one of the best playmakers in the game.
This allows for versatility, especially on the power play, where he can play either the half-wall or the pivot man, where a skilled passer is more than necessary.
However, what makes him so dangerous is not his ability to pass, but the fact that he can also put the puck in the net with a well-positioned shot.
Choosing to pass most of the time creates space for himself as defenders and goalies choose to play the pass more times than not, allowing Savard time, and a clear shooting lane to put the puck on net.
Leave any NHL forward with an open shooting lane and the time to cock back and release a strong shot, and eventually it’s going to come back to nip you in the butt.
In my eyes, the two most important members of the Bruins' club with respect to Tyler Seguin’s development as an NHLer, are the two Mark/cs—that is Mark Recchi and Marc Savard.
Recchi can provide the “old-man” (no offense) approach to the game, showing Seguin how things are done and how to carry himself—even though he already seems like a well-rounded kid.
Savard can take care of his on-ice worries by doing what he does best, and feeding him the puck. Last season in the OHL, Seguin notched 48 goals, outscoring Taylor Hall by eight. And while he gets most of his recognition for being a more complete hockey player, the fact of the matter is the kid can put the puck in the net.
That’s why having a setup man like Savard is so key to such a young dynamic player’s success, and with a pure goal-scorer like Nathan Horton joining the squad he's going to need someone to give him the puck too.
Put the puck on his stick, and he’ll deliver more times than not—and not many people can do that like Savard.
After his severe grade-three concussions, courtesy of Matt Cooke’s pesky elbows, Savard never fully returned to true form last year.
It’s not necessarily because he wasn’t healthy, but because he made a quick re-entry into a playoff atmosphere and was most-likely more rusty than anything else.
But this hasn’t stopped the speculation that maybe he’ll never return to form and be the player he once was in the pre-concussion days. And it certainly hasn’t stopped his career from being labeled as “concussion-stricken.”
Because of this, his trade value is low to none, and to make matters worse, the Bruins really can’t afford to take back much salary anyway. This means they’d basically give away their best offensive player for a couple of draft picks—not exactly the ideal return.
So if they can hold off on trading Savard (let’s hope they choose not to move him altogether) until the trade deadline next season, it would be a wise decision.
It would give him a chance to replenish his trade value, and warrant the B’s a better return. And assuming they find a way to clear cap space before that point, they should be able to handle and keep whatever comes back their way.
Trading away a player who just signed a seven-year deal in order to retire with your organization and was given a no-trade clause to boot doesn’t look good to the fans, but it also doesn’t look good to other potential free-agents.
Why would any other players want to sign with a team who shows such disloyalty to their players as the Bruins would by trading Savvy? The answer is they wouldn’t.
It would be a move that could haunt the organization for years to come and queue major ramifications in every aspect of the sport. Those are the kinds of moves that begin talks of curses and superstitions—whether you are a believer or not.
Nothing about moving him seems right, and it would just add to the heartache that the men wearing the spoked-B have given their fans since the birth of the organization some time ago.
If there was ever a time to let him go, it was before signing him to his new deal that takes him to the end of his career—so that time is long gone.
If Savard is traded, one of his most likely destinations would unfortunately be Toronto. With all the Kaberle trade talk, and the Bruins needing a puck-moving defenseman, it just becomes all the more likely.
Add Savard’s family being relatively close, and you get one very good reason to waive a no-trade clause.
The last thing we want to do is re-ignite the fire that Kessel and Savard had here in Beantown not too long ago.
Not just because you know they’ll end up burning the B’s over and over again, but because here in Boston, WE HATE PHIL KESSEL and we don’t want to see him get any more points than he already has.
But you know if Savard heads up North, Kessel’s point totals will skyrocket with the other half of the dynamic-duo centering him for many years to come.