At 10 a.m. on Monday, the Bruins officially will designate Tim Thomas a suspended player. What happens after remains to be seen.
Last week, Thomas reiterated to general manager Peter Chiarelli via agent Bill Zito that he will not play this season. However, Thomas wants to play in 2013-14.
This season, the Bruins will be responsible for carrying Thomas’s $5 million prorated cap number, although he will not receive his $3 million in remaining salary.
“We want to do it in a non-adversarial way,” Chiarelli said of suspending Thomas. “I’ve talked to the agent. We’ll agree to some type of set of facts. That will be it.”
Last summer, Chiarelli projected that a team below the cap floor might trade for Thomas. Even though Thomas wouldn’t play, a team could have used his cap hit to reach the floor.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the floor this season is $44 million. All teams are above that threshold.
“There’s probably not an opportunity to move him to a team that needs to get to the floor,” Chiarelli acknowledged. “So, it’s a bit of a standstill. He’s on our cap and he’ll be suspended.”
Thomas’s contract is set to expire after this season. The Bruins can toll the contract forward by an additional season, and Thomas would remain Boston property in 2013-14. If the Bruins decline to toll the contract forward, Thomas will become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
Last May, the Bruins were surprised by Thomas’s decision. That abrupt declaration, combined with the team’s obligation to carry his cap number this season, will not make Thomas welcome in Boston. But circumstances could change.
“Too early to tell,” Chiarelli said when asked if the team would toll Thomas’s contract forward. “It’s a contractual right by law that we have that we may use or not.”
Bourque is home
Thirteen years ago, Ray Bourque called TD Garden home. On Sunday, Chris Bourque finally could say the same. The son of the Hall of Fame defenseman took his first official skate as a Bruin on Garden ice.
“To be in the locker room, it’s something I’ve dreamed of as a kid,” Bourque said. “I used to come in here as a kid. But to come in here as a player to try and earn a spot is really a dream come true.”
Bourque will have first crack at filling the only vacancy among the forward lines. On June 23, the Bruins traded third-line left wing Benoit Pouliot to Tampa Bay. On Sunday, the 26-year-old Bourque practiced in Pouliot’s former spot on the No. 3 line alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
“He makes plays,” coach Claude Julien said of Bourque. “He’s got good hockey sense, skates well. We saw him on the power play. He does some good things. We need to give this guy an opportunity to show that he can do it with us. Right now, we know he’s not a fourth-line player. He’s more of a top-three-line player. Right now, there’s a spot open there. We’re giving him that opportunity to maybe see if there’s some chemistry that can be built between those three.”
In 32 games with Providence this season, Bourque had eight goals and 20 assists. In previous call-ups with Pittsburgh and Washington, Bourque filled mostly a fourth-line role.
The Bruins have one of the league’s sharpest fourth lines in Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. On the third line, the two-way play of Kelly and Peverley should help blunt any of Bourque’s defensive shortcomings.
“I would never make excuses for myself. But when I did play for those two teams, I was always stuck on the fourth line,” Bourque said of his earlier NHL stints. “Not playing with as offensive guys as I would like to. I consider myself decently offensive. It’s tough when you’re playing eight minutes tops and not given that great a chance to produce offensively.”
Savard to visit
Marc Savard is scheduled to be in Boston this week, at which time the Bruins will declare Savard unfit to play. Savard is still suffering post-concussion symptoms.
Savard is under contract through 2016-17 at an annual average salary of $4,007,143. The Bruins could exceed this season’s $70.2 million cap by Savard’s annual hit by placing the center on long-term injured reserve.
However, it’s possible the Bruins won’t have to use that option. Unlike 2011-12, performance bonuses will not initially be counted toward the cap. For example, only Tyler Seguin’s $900,000 base salary will count toward the cap. If Seguin earns his maximum of $2.65 million in bonuses, setting the Bruins over the cap, they can include part or all of that amount in the bonus cushion. They would then be penalized that amount in 2013-14.
“We’ve got a lot of flexibility this year,” said Chiarelli. “Do I suspect we’ll use Savard’s LTI? It depends. [Owner Jeremy] Jacobs has allowed us to pursue those types of players. He wants to win. I think if we presented a compelling case, I think he’d let us use it.”
Adam McQuaid underwent surgery in October to remove a blood clot near his right shoulder. The procedure required doctors to remove a rib and part of McQuaid’s neck muscle. But McQuaid expects to play against the Rangers on Saturday. “I feel pretty close,” McQuaid said. “I feel like every day is getting better.’’ It’s coming pretty quick.” McQuaid missed last year’s playoffs because of a concussion. The defenseman’s last game was April 5 , when he skated only eight shifts against Ottawa. “He certainly didn’t stick out in the group as far as a guy being off his game or anything else,” Julien said. “We’re looking forward to having a guy like him. We missed him last year.” . . . The Bruins probably will open the season with one extra forward and one spare defenseman. On Sunday, four forwards practiced on an extra line: Lane MacDermid, Jay Pandolfo, Ryan Spooner, and Jamie Tardif. Three defensemen are competing for the No. 7 job: Aaron Johnson, Matt Bartkowski, and David Warsofsky . . . The Bruins will have an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Garden. The scrimmage is free. Fans must claim tickets at the Garden box office or at www.bostonbruins.com . . . The Bruins will offer three complimentary food or non-alcoholic beverage items to fans during January home games. Other benefits include a 25 percent sale on merchandise in the Garden pro shop during home games; free T-shirts to all fans on Saturday; and a raffle for free travel on the team charter to an away game.