The Boston Bruins will be facing a 4.75 million dollar hit to their salary cap next season due to bonuses offered to players last year (mostly to Jarome Iginla). The loss of cap space will affect the Bruins organization in how they secure their remaining players not under contract. With July 1st less than two weeks away, the Bruins may have to do something they previously stated that wouldn’t do. The Black and Gold might have to revisit their moratorium on buy outs and use one (or even two).
Back in May, Cam Neely had discussed with WEEI.com that the organization had not used either of the compliance buyouts and they hadn’t discussed using them. One of the players that had been rolling around the rumor mill as a possible candidate for a buy out was Bruins center (now winger) Chris Kelly. At the time, Chris Kelly’s injury (herniated disc) made him ineligible. With Kelly’s successful surgery, he’ll be eligible for a buyout if he’s healthy enough to report to training camp. (The last medical report on Kelly’s prognosis stated he would be ready for camp in September.)
There has been plenty of talk about the tweaks being made in Boston, and buying Chris Kelly actually makes sense. Shawn Thornton won’t be returning. There is already talk that Gregory Campbell could end up as the thirteenth forward. Daniel Paille has earned a promotion to the third line. The fourth line will look nothing like it did last year.
There is also a lot of young Providence talent who might be ready to make their NHL debut. The Bruins look like they are going to pass on Chad Johnson, giving Niklas Svedberg a chance to be the number two goalie in Boston. Justin Florek, Ryan Spooner(who wouldn’t be a bad choice as the center for the fourth line next year), and Matt Fraser are primed for starting spots in Boston next season. Svedberg, Fraser, and Florek could all be acquired next season on two-way contracts that will cost less than the three million dollar cap hit in Kelly’s contract.
Chris Kelly is a reliable player for the Boston Bruins, and I certainly don’t wish him any ill will. The Boston Bruins certainly don’t either. They’ve been protective of their core 2011 Stanley Cup players, trading them only when a remarkable deal comes their way (in the case of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley) or their role can be filled by a cheaper player (Shawn Thornton). The Bruins will have some hard choices to make especially since they still have to find the money for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. As much as I’d like to see Kelly stay in Boston, this hard choice should be made to keep the Bruins under the cap space and be a Stanley Cup winning team.