The Boston Bruins are a total wagon so far this season, sitting atop the NHL standings with a 14-2-0 record to open the year. But these Bruins also have a problem with the good ole salary cap. When Charlie McAvoy was activated, they were able to gain enough cap room with Mike Reilly going on waivers and Derek Forbort going on LTIR.
However, what happens when Forbort comes back? How do they get the cap room? That brings me to the subject of this entire post. The Bruins should trade Craig Smith. Or at least seriously consider doing so.
I doubt the return would be a whole lot, as he’s a pending UFA and the Bruins would be looking to dump his entire contract, but it’s still a move worth making for more reasons than just the cap. There’s plenty of younger options who are doing just as well, if not better, waiting in Providence.
For starters, just the cap equation works out. Forbort is making $3 million this season, all of which is currently on LTIR as the Bruins got enough salary relief to activate McAvoy. Smith has a $4.3 million base salary this season, although his deal averages out to $3.1 million annually. Since Smith is making more than Forbort, it’s easy to deal him and activate Forbort when he’s ready, and the Bruins can stay under the salary cap.
In addition to just the cap sense it makes, Smith is not exactly having the best season. Regressing from a consistent 20 goal scorer to put up 13 goals in 2020 and 16 last season, Smith has only put up one goal and two assists this season, playing just 10 games and being healthy scratched multiple times by Jim Montgomery.
With Smith struggling, there’s plenty of players in Providence ready to take his spot with one phone call. AJ Greer has been taking his place on the active roster, but one person who could be called up is Jakub Lauko, who has looked solid while putting up a goal and an assist in seven games of action, with his first goal looking quite nice.
Another candidate to take Smith’s place is Marc McLaughlin, who debuted last season for a short 11 games of action. He looked like a capable NHL player, putting up three goals, including a memorable first NHL goal in his debut, in front of friends and family at TD Garden. He had a strong preseason and was in the mix for a roster spot for a while, so he’s worth a more extended look at the NHL level.
Perhaps a sleeper candidate to give a look if Smith is indeed traded would be Oskar Steen, who has 23 games of experience over parts of two seasons. If you remember, Steen was drawing rave reviews last season as he looked the part of an NHL regular, recording two goals and four assists in 20 games last season.
So, to wrap things up, I believe that Don Sweeney and the front office need to seriously look into trading Craig Smith and should be well inclined to pull the trigger. The return isn’t going to be high, and it shouldn’t be, but it makes sense both in terms of the salary cap and the roster, there are plenty of younger guys with seemingly higher upside waiting for a shot in the NHL that have earned their looks.