When we heard that Dennis Seidenberg was out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL today, I think that every serious Bruins fan started to wonder who the B’s could possibly trade for as a fill-in.
Here’s the thing: The Bruins are in a tough situation in many directions when it comes to who they can trade for. While not all of these criterion are absolute, the Bruins are gonna have a hard time trading for anyone who doesn’t match these characteristics:
1) He has to be on an expiring contract.
Even after putting Marc Savard’s salary on LTIR, the Bruins will only have about $13.1 million in cap space next year, plus about $4.8 million in the bonus cushion (which is what they’re using to make Jarome Iginla’s salary work this year). And that’s with Iginla, Smith, Thornton, Fraser, Krug, Bartkowski, Warsofsky, Trotman, and Svedberg’s contracts all expiring. (Also expiring are guys like Caron, Nick Johnson, and Kevan Miller, but whatever. They’re important place fillers, but they’re not building blocks.) That’s not a terrible cap situation, but they are far from an abundance of space, also. So it’s unlikely that the Bruins will add significant salary at defense next year, especially given that they’ll already have 7 capable guys in Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, McQuaid, and the three second year guys.
2) His salary fits.
Seidenberg makes $3.25 million this year, and the B’s have around $1-2 million in space given the bonuses that Iginla, Hamilton, and Krug are likely to earn and the fact that Savard’s contract is on LTIR (and also Kelly for the time being). Realistically, that means that any guy the Bruins trade for would have to make less than $4.5 million. This cuts out any high price rentals that I may or may not have had a few pipe dreams about.
3) He has to be good.
No sense in trading for a guy who isn’t even better than either Bartkowski or McQuaid, whoever the B’s 6th defenseman is. Nothing else I can really say in terms of analysis here.
4) His team has to suck.
So that they’re actually willing to trade a good player to the Bruins. No shit.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
A) Upcoming UFAs on bad teams (aka where the Bruins need to look almost extensively). I chose only guys who have at least 19 TOI/G, because, if they’re under that on a bad team, there’s no sense in the Bruins wanting them.
I’m essentially cherrypicking from Capgeek.com’s UFA finder page that lists defensemen available for rentals (http://capgeek.com/ufa-finder/?rentals=on&position_id=D).
Kris Russell, Tom Gilbert, Chris Phillips, Ron Hainsey, Stephane Robidas, Joe Corvo (just kidding)
Obviously, the question is whether or not any of these guys are better than Adam McQuaid, who should be the final defenseman for the B’s come playoff time. My favorites are Hainsey and Gilbert, with Hainsey being the best bet IMO. Gilbert has a corsi of about 5.5, corsirel of 7, corsi quality of competition/relative quality of competition of 1.3/.7. This is all on a shitty Panthers team with near average 50.5% offensive zone faceoff starts. The only problem is that he’s not good at PK – he’s 7th on the Panthers – but he can play a little PP, as he’s 3rd on the team. The B’s might need that if Chara, Krug, Hamilton, and Boychuk, aka the capable PP guys, have to play more minutes with Seidenberg out.
Hainsey is more defensive minded, which would obviously be a more direct replacement of the German Monster. His special team abilities are just about the opposite of Gilbert’s, as he’s 3rd on the Hurricanes in SH TOI but a distant, distant 4th on the PP. His corsi, corsi rel, and QoC and QoCrel, respectively, are about 2/6/1.5/.6, which are a little below Gilbert’s, but he starts in the offensive zone just under 47% of the time. He’s on a better team than Gilbert, which may help his stats a little more, but Gilbert was also amnestied by the Wild this past year, and I’d rather have the better defensive guy, so that’s why I’d say Hainsey would be better. Although, Hainsey makes $2 million and Gilbert makes 900k, so that could be important if the Bruins are worried about going over the bonus overage and costing themselves cap space next year. Hainsey also has improved his numbers a lot this year, which might be due to it being a contract year. That could be the type of rental the Bruins need, but it might also mean that he’s just not that good. Crap, I might be talking myself into Gilbert instead. Either way, they’re both decent options.
Phillips could be a decent call, but I don’t know how much better than McQuaid. Looking at his possession numbers (on behindthenet.ca, a great site), it seems that his numbers have only really gone up this year, and he might be a contract year fluke like Hainsey could be.
Russell’s stats leave me confused. His corsi is great relative to his teammates, but bad otherwise. Considering he plays on the Flames, and my corsi stats might be half decent compared to my teammates, that could be a bad sign. On the other hand, his overall corsi stats should be bad because the guys who are actually on the ice with him suck also, especially considering he plays hard minutes at a QoC/QoCrel of 1.5/.45… but he also starts in the offensive zone 55% of the time. Hard to figure out, so I’d rather just go with one of the first two guys.
Robidas could be the dark horse of the group. Across the board, his possession stats indicate that he plays hard minutes and always holds his own. His numbers are 1.2/.1/1.4/1.3, and they’ve been relatively the same for the past few years. That’s at almost 54% off zone starts, but he’s usually been in the mid to high 40s. The big problem here is his salary of $3.3 million, and the fact that he’s 36 and has played in Dallas for 10 years. I have no idea how much he values playing in a familiar city vs. winning a cup, nor do I have any reason to judge him based on whatever his decision is. But his familiarity with Dallas’ system and city as a whole, combined with his price tag that would eat up all of Seidenberg’s LTIR money could be a problem.
If Chiarelli can make the money work equally with any guy on the list, I’d rank them as Hainsey/Gilbert tied for first, depending on whether they want offense or defense more (I’d lean towards Hainsey’s defense), Robidas, Phillips, and then Russell.
B) Non-UFA guys with reasonable salaries (meaning that the Bruins would then have to move them or Boychuk after the year)
Mark Giordano, Grant Clitsome (yep, that’s his real name)
These guys are both very legit options. Giordano, on the Flames, plays against ridiculously hard competition (typically the only time you see a corsi QoC over 2 is in the playoffs, much less at his 3.2) and his OZS (offensive zone starts) is at just 39%. His corsi is a really bad -11, but his corsirel of almost 7 and the previous two numbers explain that. He has two more years after this one at $4.02 million, but he also has a NMC. And he’d know that the Bruins would have to trade him after the year, so I don’t see him OKing the move. Clitsome (I’m finding it hard to type that without laughing) has a 4.1/6.8/1.7/.9 at 50% OZS. He is just 28 and has 2 years left at a reasonable $2.07 million. There’s some hope with this one. He’d be a solid fill in, and I’d be shocked if the Bruins couldn’t deal him for something half decent in the summer.
C) Guys who should fit into group B but are on the Rangers, Flyers, or Devils. I’m grouping these guys together because there are so many options on these three teams alone, but all of the options for these guys would rely upon their team dropping out of playoff contention. Considering how horrible the Metropolitan Division is, I don’t see anyone giving up playoff hopes without a monumental collapse:
Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Kimmo Timonen (all expiring, and the Flyers would have to retain some of Timonen’s $6 million salary to make it work), Braydon Coburn, Marc Staal, Andy Greene (non-expiring, and the Flyers might have to do the same with Coburn that they’d have to do with Timonen).
Given his salary and possession numbers, Stralman is probably the best bet here. But all of them are crapshoots and very unlikely to happen.
Good luck Chiarelli.