The Bruins are in a jam. Contrary to previous seasons at this time of year, General Manager Peter Chiarelli is polishing up his roster with certainty. This just is not the case this season. Chiarelli will enter the 2014-15 campaign with approximately $69 million invested in his team according to Capgeek.com. Marc Savard’s $4,024,143 annual cap hit and roughly $4.75 million in overage penalties (bonuses received by Jarome Iginla, Torey Krug, and Dougie Hamilton) account for that massive figure. As a result, the Bruins have little breathing room to re-sign Krug and Reilly Smith.
The young guns are up for a raise. Krug deemed himself a valuable commodity by becoming a power-play mainstay. Krug totaled 14 goals last season, 6 of which came on the man advantage. The budding Smith proved he fits seamlessly on Boston’s second line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Smith totaled 51 points last regular season, with 20 goals and 31 assists. As it’s possible to re-sign Krug and Smith without moving salary, it isn’t advantageous. It would result in Boston having essentially zero roster flexibility. Boston needs to free cap space, as they are currently over $809,143 according to Capgeek.com.
With that said, a trade is approaching.
Boston’s most plausible position to trade off is defense. It’s the only side of the ice which doesn’t require Chiarelli’s immediate attention. The Bruins have an excess of defense, with nine classified defensemen battling for about seven spots, as Chiarelli has explain with training camp opening up on Sept. 18. David Warsofsky is on the list, but it appears that he wont be for long. He can be assigned to Providence without clearing waivers. And then there were eight, but as Chiarelli has explained, Boston usually keeps seven.
So, who’s safe and who isn’t? It’s almost certain that Hamilton, Krug and Zdeno Chara are safe bets to return. Chara is Boston’s rock, their captain and one of the team’s most important players. Hamilton is assimilating well with each D-pair he works with. Krug is a power-play mastermind. Denis Seidenberg is returning from major knee surgery, but maintains a no-trade clause.
That leaves Johnny Boychuck, Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid, and Kevin Miller. The brawny Miller is an inexpensive, stay-at-home defense man who is already under contract for two years. While McQuaid has nasty physical tangibles as a defensive defensemen, he has a poor health record. That leaves Boychuck and Bartkowski as the two defensemen who can brink back the biggest return, and at this point, that’s all that matters. Boychuck is a dependable second-pairing defensemen who hits like a truck. He has a wicked rough shot. He’s a right shot. But trading away a defensemen like boychuck to free up space may not be that advantageous. He had the third most ice time on defense behind Chara and Seidenberg. Coach Claude Julien likes utilizing Boychuck in tandem with Chara late in games and occasionally in the playoffs. With that said, Boston knows what to expect with Boychuck, but they can’t say the same with Bartkowski.
Bartkowski has a logistical price tag ($1.25 million according to Capgeek.com). He’s a quick left-shot. He’s one of the teams best puck carriers out of the defensive zone. But the young gun (26) is labeled as erratic. That certainly affects his trade value around the league.
Boston is ready to make a trade and are in prime position to do so. They not only seek cap space, they also seek an experienced right wing – preferably a right shot – to avoid placing a young, inexperienced winger on the third forward line.
Unless the Bruins can attain significant space, it seems logical that Krug and Smith will both receive one-year extensions. It’s not what either sides would like. Both Krug and Smith are due for raises. Next time, they’ll be eligible for arbitration. This off-season has proven that arbitration hearings earn players like them the money they’d prefer. Only time will tell what will be made of Krug and Smith. One thing is evident: Chiarelli has plenty of work on the horizon.