Over the years, I have argued that Bruins GM, Peter Chiarelli, has overpayed while paying for his team. I have written in this space that Andrew Ference, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder were all overpaid by at least $1M per player. Due to these overpayments, the Bruins were always up against the cap ceiling and could never get that Tomas Kaberle, puck moving defenseman. This past season when Marco Sturm and Matt Hunwick were given away for basically cap relief/nothing I think I hurt my shoulder while patting myself on the back.
Well, we all know that Marc Savard went down with another concussion and the team used his cap number to aquire Tomas Kaberle. The rest is history and thankfully, my wonderful wife drove (and put up with us 40 year old idiots) on the night of June 15.
Coming off the Cup win, maybe I have to admit I was wrong about Chiarelli’s deals. All five of the guys mentioned earlier were instrumental in the run and I even argued that it was Ference drawing the proverbial line in the sand for their Cup run. Next year, with the salary cap going up $5M per team, the Bruins are actually looking good for the future.
So where does the team stand?
The first and fourth lines are pretty much set. Up first, David Krejci between Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Krejci is in the final year of his latest contract while Horton and Lucic are Bruins until 2012/13. All three have had great playoff runs and Horton’s first playoff season was one we as fans will never forget. Two series winning goals, one in OT and a total of two OT winners. All this from a guy who I was told by a Florida Panther employee at the 2010 LA draft ”could be a good player if he gets his head out of his ass.”
On the fourth line, Greg Campbell between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille are all signed through this upcoming season.
The second line as it stands needs help. Patrice Bergeron is currently the only one signed into next year. His mentor, Mark Recchi, retired on top and good for him. He’s been a class act for over 20 years and it was good for Rex to go out on top. Brad Marchand is a restriced free agent and I’m sure he will get a heafty bounce in salary. I haven’t heard any “Stamkos-like” we will match any offers statements from Bruin brass but I can see him jumping up to the $3.0-3.5M range.
I’m not sure what the team does on the third line. I want to see Tyler Seguin get the minutes to develop into the front line center he can be. I don’t think playing on a line with Chris Kelly is best for him. No offense to Kelly, he’s a good player. I do think he and Michael Ryder work well but Ryder is unrestricted and from what the Bruins have said, they are going to let him pursue his best interests. They haven’t told to him to “not let the door hit you on the ass” but I think for the right deal, they would welcome him back. Yes, he can be a dog during the regular seaon but every year he’s been here, he’s done something special in the playoffs. (Who can forget the glove save on Plekanec?)
Maybe you start Seguin as your third line center? Resign Ryder for short dollars and a shorter length and move Kelly to the wing. You get the continued develpoment from the kid at center with a backup in the middle and a potential sniper in Ryder. The downside? Ryder stinks up the season and Seguin doesn’t have anyone offensively to distribute the puck to.
The defense is in good shape. The captain, Zdeno Chara, is signed through 2017/18, effectively keeping him a Bruin until he retires. Dennis Seidenberg is signed until 2013/14, and Andrew Ference will be here until 2012/13.
Johnny Boychuk and Adam MacQuiad are in the final years of the current Bruin contracts.
Tomas Kaberle….good bye. The Bruins have been rumored to have been shopping his rights this week.
I personally would like to see James Wisnewski brought into the fold. He moves the puck well and has a little more grit than Kaberle ever will have.
In goal, it’s Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Rask has this next year left on his current deal while Timmy has two more left on “the albatross contract they will never get rid of.” I hated the four year deal Thomas got two years ago and I still hated it going into this past season but how can I argue the next two seasons?
On the farm, Jordan Caron could replace Michael Ryder but what can be realistically be expected from him come playoff time? We know Ryder plays well when the lights are the brightest. Can we honestly expect that from a rookie like Caron?
I don’t expect the Bruins to be big players in the free agency market as they have 18 players locked up for next year totalling approximately $52.2M. The cap is going up to $64.3M leaving roughly $12.1M of available cap space. Factor in $4.0M for Marchand as a worst case overpayment for the agitator and another $4.0 for a “Wisnewski type defenseman” to replace Kaberle and the B’s are still roughly $4.1M under the cap.
Now for a wild card. What if Marc Savard retires because of his injuries? If that happens, you can add $4.0 back to the cap and the B’s are looking at $8.1M under the cap with everyone signed.
As good as all this sounds, it’s going to be very hard to repeat to repeat as Cup champs. There’s a short off season, a “bulls eye” on their back and high expectations. Typically, under Julien and before this playoff season, when they are expected to do well this team has fallen short. Maybe the Boston Bruins have actually turned the corner…
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Written by Jim Mulligan