This has been a very neutral free agency period for the Boston Bruins. You can’t really blame Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Black and Gold front office this year (unless you had your heart on keeping Jarome Iginla here in Boston till he retired). Last week, we took a look at how little money the Bruins had to play around with. (The Bruins’ shallow pockets are due to bonuses given to the future Hall of Fame forward and a few other players.) The Bruins have roughly $5.7 million (counting Marc Savard remaining on long term injured reserve)to sign half a dozen players.
Here is a quick run down of the players the Bruins still have(or choose not)to sign:
Matt Bartkowski – Any chance of Bartkowski staying in Boston evaporated when he chose to file for salary arbitration. With the Bruins having so little money to spare, they’re going to pass on any offer that would compromise the Bruins. They’ve already got eight other NHL ready defensemen, and at best Bartkowski was looking at a trough scramble to get through waivers, or being left as the odd man out when the roster got solidified (barring injuries). So, the Bruins will hold out to the hearing, and then wish him well unless the arbiter decides his pay would fit in the Bruins budget.
Torey Krug and Reilly Smith – While they work different parts of the ice, they’re being lumped together because they are in the exact same boat. Torey Krug and Reilly Smith are entry level restricted free agents(due to them signing early out of college) Entry level restricted free agents don’t have the full rights of a restricted free agent. They can’t sign offer sheets with other NHL teams. They also have no arbitration rights under the current CBA. They have no leverage in contract negotiations. With the Bruins having so little money to give them, you know the Bruins will sit them down and tell them that they will get a reasonable bump up for next year in a one year contract, and the Bruins will promise them serious money in 2015-16.
Matt Fraser- Part of the Loui Eriksson-Tyler Seguin deal, Fraser has done well in Providence and has come up a few times for Boston. The Bruins may be able to get him cheaply as well. With the holes opening up in the Bruins bottom six, he has a legitimate shot of making the Boston roster with a good show in training camp. The organization will likely offer him a two year, two way deal to keep costs down and his hopes up.
Justin Florek – Florek is in the same boat as Fraser. A player that performed well in Providence and came up a few times in Boston when the organization needed him. He’s likely to receive a one or two year, two-way deal with the organization as well.
Jordan Caron – I think we were all hoping that he was going to turn out to be another Patrice Bergeron. In his case, it was a serious of badly timed injuries and never getting the chance to shine in Boston. He was the thirteenth forward last season. We’ve had Caron in the Bruins organization for the last four seasons, and we’ve never found the right place for him. With so much young talent coming up, it just might best for all parties to help him get a new start in another organization, or just thank him for his time and wish him luck.