Clearly, they will clear some space

As Marc Savard continues to progress, so approaches general manager Peter Chiarelli’s decision — one that’s been anticipated since the playmaker was placed on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season because of post-concussion symptoms.

Before activating Savard, the Bruins must clear salary before reintroducing the center’s $4.007 million annual cap hit. So sometime before early next month, when Savard could be ready for game action, Chiarelli will create the required space, either via trade or AHL assignment.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to do,’’ said Chiarelli.

It may not be a seamless transition. There is no guarantee, according to Chiarelli, that Player X can be traded on the eve of Savard’s return. An opposing GM could insist on acquiring a player — Michael Ryder, for example — sooner rather than later, which would require the Bruins to bridge the gap between that deal and Savard’s reentry. Chiarelli confirmed that in any trade, he would have to accept either draft picks or prospects in return instead of NHL roster players.

However, if Chiarelli turns to AHL assignments, he could clear salary immediately before activating Savard. Only Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Tim Thomas have no-movement clauses in their contracts, which frees Chiarelli to waive every other player without having to gain their consent. The Bruins could also bring up any demoted players for the playoffs, when the salary cap is not considered.

For example, if the Bruins assign Ryder to Providence, they can promote him upon the conclusion of the regular season with no cap implications. They would not risk bringing him up during the regular season because a team could claim him for half price on reentry waivers.

Even Marco Sturm is not guaranteed protection against an AHL assignment. If the Bruins believe the left wing, who is recovering from his second major knee surgery, would best serve the club by tucking his $3.5 million salary in the minors, they could send Sturm to Providence.

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