Boston Bruins: Don Sweeney needs to make room for the future

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 11: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins watches the play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden on November 11, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 11: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins watches the play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden on November 11, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Trade rumors are starting to rumble as the Boston Bruins face uncertainty in key areas due to injury, inconsistent play and a mysterious leave of absence by Tuukka Rask, but top priority should be securing the Bs’ future.

Brandon Carlo, Ryan DonatoDanton Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Charlie McAvoy will all need new contracts after their entry level deals expire on July 1, 2019. Most of this group will undoubtedly require more than the base salary when they lose their training wheels. Carlo and McAvoy have earned significant raises, and the Boston Bruins are currently just three million dollars under the cap. This isn’t enough money to pay either Carlo or McAvoy alone. How will they make room to sign all of these RFAs?

Boston Bruins Biggest Contracts

The two top earning Bruins are David Krejci at $7.25 million a season and Tuukka Rask at $7 million a season. Both Krejci and Rask are signed through the 2020-21 season at this rate. It seems unfathomable that none of the big three (Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak) make the most money on the Bruins. However, these big contracts can be credited to Don Sweeney’s predecessor, Peter Chiarelli. Nonetheless, the difficult decisions now fall on Dealing Don.

If a trade is actually going to make sense for the Bruins, they need to unload some of their big contracts to pave the way for the future. Therefore, the Bruins should generate trade talks for Krejci, Rask, and David Backes who is also signed through the 2020-21 season at a cap hit of 6$ million per season, but is performing at a fourth line level.

The Bruins will need to get over some hurdles before actually trading any of these three players, but all these avenues are worth exploring as their contracts don’t expire for another two and a half years. Within this time frame many more young assets will need to be signed such as Anders Bjork, Jake Debrusk, Jeremy Lauzon, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Zboril, and Torey Krug. Something’s got to give for the Bruins to retain the future of the franchise.

For this team to finalize a trade for an established player, they will almost certainly be asked to ship out a reasonably established young talent. Jake Debrusk and Brandon Carlo have been proposed by potential suitors in the past, but the Bruins didn’t budge.

Bruins Trade Rumors

The biggest names linked to the Bruins recently are Jeff Carter of the Los Angleles Kings, Artemi Panarin of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s unrealistic that Toronto will trade one of their prized young talents to a division rival regardless of their relationship status with Nylander, so he should be left out of this conversation.

Jeff Carter

The chances are also slim that the Bruins would trade for another costly aging center, Jeff Carter. However, the Kings need a goaltender with Jonathan Quick out indefinitely after surgery to repair a town meniscus. They also sent Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh for Carl Hagelin, so they appear open to exchanging veterans. Rask may look pretty good to the Kings right now.

Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins /

Boston Bruins

Carter is a second line center that carries a cap hit of $5.27 million, which is nearly two million dollars cheaper than David Krejci. If the Bruins could somehow swap Krejci for Carter, they could free up some money while maintaining a talented veteran presence in the second line center spot.

Artemi Panarin

Landing Artemi Panarin would be the ultimate prize for the Bs, but this would require giving up some significant assets. Brandon Carlo, Jake Debrusk, and Charlie McAvoy should be off limits along with the first forward line, so the Bruins would have to package several pieces to sell the Blue Jackets.

Torey Krug may be attractive to the Blue Jackets, if they are looking to add to their arsenal on the blue line. However, Krug should be off limits in my opinion as he posted over 50 points in each of the last two seasons and had a career high in points last season with 14 goals and 45 assists for 59 points. These would be some big shoes to fill on the backend.

David Backes would be a hard sell for any team as he is quickly declining, and David Krejci’s soft touch doesn’t quite fit John Tortorella’s smash-mouth style.

While we are at it, the Blue Jackets don’t need goaltending as they already boast one of the best in Sergei Bobrovsky, so Tuukka Rask is out.

Also, Sweeney should shy away from any deal that would require giving up high draft picks. The best way to build a team is from within, which was evident last season when a number of prospects exceeded expectations and helped drive the Bruins to the second round of the playoffs.

Other Options for the Bruins

Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are leading the team in the right direction, but they aren’t without flaws. The Bruins were thought to be moving toward a rebuild two seasons ago when Bruce Cassidy took over, but they caught fire last season, which tempted the Bs’ brass to go all in for a run at the Cup. The shot callers showed that a rash decision isn’t beneath them at the trade deadline when they gave up more than enough for a 33 year old whose contract expired at the end of the season, Rick Nash.

There should be a deal out there that makes sense for the Bs, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of promising prospects and must require unloading some serious money against the cap.

Is it time for the Bruins to trade Tuukka?. dark. Next

If the Boston Bruins don’t make a trade to free up cap space, the only other area of relief is to let the unrestricted free agents walk. Noel Acciari, Steven Kampfer, and Zdeno Chara are the only UFAs to be, and only Chara currently makes a big dent against the cap with a $5 million dollar hit.

Both Acciari and Kampfer make less than one million dollars a year, so the question is will the Bruins re-sign Chara for another year? And, if they do, how much will it cost?