There was a vast amount of speculation prior to last season on what the future of the Bruins would be. The predictions were loud and overwhelming. The Bruins monumental collapse against the Flyers left the fans, media, and the players all wondering – now what?
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli stayed calm and made some transactions that likely put his job on the line. Re-signing Mark Recchi and Johnny Boychuk, trading away Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Greg Campell, then waiting to draft either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin a few days later, seemed the role of a pacifist, or the role of someone just trying to not get fired.
While at the time everyone thought that it made the Bruins better, not one person had a crystal ball foretelling a Stanley Cup parade at the end of June.
This offseason is not much different than the previous or years gone by and the shining of the cup won’t blind us for long. This is Boston, home of all 4 major sports championships in an 8 year span. We want to know…once again… now what?
The offseason decisions in the NHL can define an organization’s intent and expectations, but lurking in the shadows is the business end of the machine. Let’s see what the Bruins have done so far in this offseason to put themselves in line to repeat as Champions.
In the end, the Bruins basically traded Kaberle for Corvo which is structurally even considering what Kaberle didn’t do inBostonand what Corvo did do inCarolina. Ryder being replaced with Pouliot is essentially an underachiever for an underachiever deal with a lot less money being spent. Recchi’s retirement makes room for Jordan Caron who will likely fight and win a roster spot in training camp. Hnidy was a buffer defenseman with little time on the ice. This loss is actually larger in the locker room than most would know.
The Bruins selected Dougie Hamilton, Alex Khokhlachev, Anthony Camara, Brian Ferlin, Rob O’Gara, and Lars Volden.
While the later picks at their current talent level likely wont amount to the future of the Bruins or other NHL teams, the first two picks are outstanding. Hamilton was not projected to be available when the Bruins made their pick (ninth overall) in the draft. He is a large two-way defenseman that can likely be the cornerstone of the Bruins defense in the years to come. Not quite the second coming of Ray Bourque, but a very good pick.
Khokhlachev being available in the second round was a very big surprise to most experts. He’s easily one of the top skill guys in the draft and has the drive and desire to score and win at any cost. While Russians are risky in entry level drafts, I credit Chiarelli’s testicular fortitude with this pick.
Brad Marchand remains unsigned as of this article. Neither Marchand nor Peter Chiarelli is worried. How do we know they aren’t worried? Chiarelli was actually on vacation this past week! Both sides are working towards a deal, likely to be in the 2 year/$2.5 mil range.
The contract’s of Krejci, Rask, Thornton, Kelly, and Peverly are all up next year and it won’t be easy to get most re-signed for the usual payout. Look for Krejci to get top line money and Rask will likely get a raise.The Bruins have a history of locking up the overachievers at a low rate, but the next few years will be tough depending on the success or downfall of the team.
The Bruins are currently $8 mil below projected cap for next season, but add Marchand’s expected contract and it will be about $5 mil. Marc Savard’s situation while likely adds an additional $4 mil to the cap for the Bruins, puts the team in a very difficult place if he doesn’t retire. The Bruins won’t be in financial trouble as much as they will be with roster spots. They are dangerously close to the maximum of 50 allowed, and if a midseason trade is required, the Bruins may be required to cut a player that they have been developing.
This offseason is likely one of Chiarelli’s finest. The amount of work he doesn’t have to do is likely the envy of GM’s around the league. The Bruins have a lot of money under the cap and players locked up for a good length of time. The Bruins will stay on their marked path of signing valuable players early for good money, and no one is predicting a shake-up. Chiarelli was a good steal fromOttawa… until the Bruins tank. Then it’s the head on a silver platter routine as usual.