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Brad Marchand practices with Bruins, remains unsure about contract situation

Sep 8, 2011, 3:20 PM EST

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Brad Marchand AP

Sometimes it seems like having some extra cap space might be a curse wrapped up in a blessing. Surely Brad Marchand‘s agent Wade Arnott must realize that the Boston Bruins are in a pretty healthy cap situation – especially for a defending Stanley Cup championship team during the salary cap days – so it’s possible that he’s asking for a robust reward for the restricted free agent. From the Bruins perspective, it’s not easy to gauge the value of player with such a small but promising sample of games on his NHL resume, which might partially explain the current impasse.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports that Marchand practiced with teammates today, even though he’s not under contract just yet. That’s a promising sign that this dispute might lean more toward being “just business” rather than getting personal, but Marchand did express some concern that a new deal might not be in place before training camp begins.

Marchand’s agent, Wade Arnott, indicated to CSNNE.com last month that “it’s not a done deal” that the restricted free agent signs a contract before training camp begins, but the player said on Thursday he hasn’t yet truly entertained the positives and negatives of holding out.

“That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s been a long summer and I’m anxious to get something done. I just want to be here and be on the ice with the guys,” said Marchand. “I’m not thinking that far ahead right now. It’s just day-to-day and hopefully it’s done before [training camp].

“I hope so, but we’ll see. With the Stanley Cup win, it’s been a very short summer and there’s a lot of stuff to do in a very short time. Some things take longer than others . . . that’s all.”

As Haggerty points out, finding comparable contracts could be a little bit tricky considering the bargain deal Logan Couture signed versus the high-risk, high-reward contract that James van Riemsdyk inked shortly afterward. As useful as Marchand’s mixture of sandpaper, agitation and scoring skill is, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins forward eclipsing the work of either of those examples, although it’s not out of line for Arnott to ask for the approximate $2.88 million per year average that Couture is receiving.

(Again, as Joe pointed out, the San Jose Sharks really deserve kudos for signing a budding star like Couture for such a reasonable amount.)

Interestingly enough, Arnott has some history with the Bruins when it comes to tough negotiations. He represented Phil Kessel during contract talks that hit a wall, eventually “forcing” the Bruins to trade the goal-scoring forward to the Toronto Maple Leafs for an impressive package of picks. Marchand’s situation seems different, though.

So there’s no Phil Kessel situation going on with No. 63 if anybody was afraid of the agitator shooting his way out of town just like Kessel did when he forced a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I’d never thought about it. I had no idea,” said Marchand. “I knew that [Arnott] was [Kessel’s] agent, but this is a totally different situation.”

Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine Marchand going without a contract by the time the 2011-12 season starts, but the murky question of his value could bleed into training camp. In the grand scheme of things, the Bruins’ have a relatively small amount of problems compared to most teams dealing with a Cup victory in the post-lockout era, which might explain why Marchand was making jokes about Michael Ryder dropping the Stanley Cup when asked about his off-season partying.

Perhaps that dent is a good symbol of this situation: a small blemish on a mostly sublime summer in Boston that we should all expect to be smoothed over in good time.

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