July 1 is only a little over a week away, and the Bruins and other teams should and will be making many moves with their own free agents this week, not to mention the draft that’s coming up. It’s time to create a full offseason piece. Remember, the B’s are going to be hit with cap penalties that the wonderful capgeek.com estimated at $4.75M, so I factored that in, as well as the ability to put Savard’s money on LTIR. Here’s what I want the B’s to do this summer, with help from the amazing capgeek.com. With the exception of the first point that I make, which already happened, these hopes/suggestions are in order of importance.
1) Don’t re-sign Shawn Thornton. This is already taken care of, and it doesn’t seem like that many people are having trouble with this one. He just can’t skate anymore, and the B’s need someone else at the 4RW spot. We’ll miss him, but this should have been an easy decision for Peter Chiarelli, and it looks like it was.
2) Re-sign Jarome Iginla. This is an easy call. As I posted recently, here are the forwards who are UFAs this summer: Vanek, Gaborik, (both not Bruins style players), Callahan (will cost too much for Bruins), Stastny (doubt he could play wing, B’s don’t need a center), Cammalleri (plays C/LW more than RW), Alfredsson, Iginla. After Iginla, who’s a realistic option for the B’s? Alfredsson just wouldn’t be worth it unless he took an insane paycut — he’s not as big as his name now.
The B’s need a scorer who can also be physical, because that’s what has worked well with Horton and Iggy recently, so Vanek and Gaborik just aren’t worth the money that they’ll get for the Bruins system. The B’s need to make the Iginla signing work, even if they have to make a bonus-laden 1 year contract for him again, with the penalty of another heavy bonus overage next year. They gotta get Iggy back.
3) Amnesty Chris Kelly. Can’t emphasize this one enough, so many fans that I’ve talked to are forgetting this one’s importance. Chris Kelly was paid $3M per year 2 years ago to be a durable (had played at least 75 games in every year of his career), above average, 31 year old, 3rd line center. Now, he is an injury prone, maybe average, $3M per year 3rd line left wing. At the time of the Kelly re-signing in 2012, most people didn’t criticize the move for both salary numbers and term length, but a great deal of people criticized it for one or the other. Now, we’re seeing that both sides had a point. Chris Kelly is now getting paid $3M for 2 more years, making us all wish that the contract had been for 2, or mayyybe 3 seasons. Or, at least the deal could’ve been for less money spread over the 4 years, a cushion that would be helpful this summer. But nope. Chiarelli committed what might be his biggest weakness, which is being too attached to his own guys. (Thank God he resisted that urge with Shawn Thornton.)
Of course, the Bruins owner is Jeremy Jacobs, who might not like paying a guy not to play. I really hope that Cam Neely or someone can get it into his head that the NHL’s revenue streams are gonna explode soon, mitigating some of the pain of amnestying a guy… and, oh yeah, remind Jacobs that it’s good for his pockets if the B’s win the Stanley Cup. I don’t know, maybe that is true, I’m just guessing.
4) Amnesty Adam McQuaid. Would you rather pay Kevan Miller $800k, or Adam McQuaid $1.56 million? Exactly. And that’s where the Bruins are right now. They have their top 4 defensemen, and their salaries, set in stone for next year: Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Hamilton. Torey Krug won’t be traded, so he’s the 5th guy (here’s to hoping that Reilly Smith and Torey Krug don’t get that much on their contracts as RFAs), and then Kevan Miller. And they still have Matt Barkowski, who would probably re-sign at about Miller’s $800k clip because of the horrible season he had after a promising end to 2013. That 7 guys already, and then there’s David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow. And then there’s Adam McQuaid, who is probably not much higher than a 50% chance to be healthy for the postseason going forward. Let him go, and remember that we’ll always have Pierre McGuire calling him “One Tough Hombre.”
5) Bring up young forwards. If the B’s get back Iggy and Reilly, that gives them a complete 1st line, complete 2nd, C/RW on the 3rd, and C/LW on the 4th, assuming that Paille stays at 4 — Actually, check that, I want Paille on the 3rd line at left wing. That leaves 2 spots open with Gregory Campbell. The B’s like having 5 capable centers, something that having Rich Peverley always allowed them to do. (See where I’m going with this?) Ryan Spooner just needs to be on the roster in this situation, and his linemate from Providence, Matt Fraser, should take Shawn Thornton’s spot. Everyone should remember that Fraser played better than either Jordan Caron or Justin Florek in the playoffs this year, and he could play his more natural right wing in place of Thorty. Then, we’d have a ton of flexibility with the final 4 spots on the roster at forward.
I’d start with Paille at 3LW, then have Spooner at 4C to really let him shine, Campbell moves over to 4LW (he slipped a little this year, and he’s played left wing for the Bruins before), and Fraser at 3RW with the chemistry he has with Spooner. Or, we could put Campbell at 3LW and Paille at 4LW, thereby creating one of the fastest final lines in the league with Spooner, Paille, and Fraser. Having either Paille or Campbell on the 3rd line would also let them and Loui Eriksson cover up for Carl Soderberg’s defensive question marks. Or just put Spooner with Soderberg, with whom he had success this past winter. Either way, get Spooner on the roster, and give him his friend Fraser, too.
6) Sign a backup goalie, 13th/14th forwards (which should forever be known as the “Jordan Caron roster spot), and 7th/8th defensemen for as little as possible. Maybe not above the league minimum. Pennies are tight for the Bruins this summer, and they’re not going to win the Cup because they decided to sign somebody like James Reimer as the team backup. Cut costs there, they way they did last year with Chad Johnson making $600k. And there’s no sense in paying someone like Jordan Caron much more than the league minimum, because, even if they have a top 12 guy go down with injury, they should have enough in Providence to step up for an extended period of time, and, at next year’s deadline, they’ll be able to absorb more salary because of the weird way that the NHL prorates salaries so much that the B’s would only need about $200k in space for a $1M player. That’s how the B’s somehow almost got Alex Edler last year despite his high salary, and they should jump on that again this year, meaning that pinching pennies now is a must.
7) Trade Niklas Svedberg. He’s about to be 25, and his value won’t get much higher. The B’s have Tuukka and Malcolm Subban, so he’s gonna get squeezed out anyway. Maybe package him with Adam McQuaid so that old rich man Jacobs doesn’t have to use the amnesty on McQuaid.
I’m hoping that the B’s are able to do at least most of that, but of course, we need backup plans. Here it is.
If the B’s don’t re-sign Iginla, don’t pay too much for any right wing to fill in for him. There’s no one on the market who can fill in for Iginla at his price, except maybe Ryan Callahan on a salary-only basis. But Callahan’s salary can’t be converted as heavily into bonuses like Iginla’s, so it won’t be worth it unless Callahan’s market crashes 1929 style. At that point, they B’s should either go big by trading for someone like Alex Eder and fortity their defense, and then be an insane defensive team with hopefully just enough offensive chops to get the job done. Eriksson and Smiddy could be the top 2 right wings, and the B’s could fill in at 3RW with a cheap, Benoit Pouliot type guy, or at least some young guy from Providence. There are not many forwards that they could go big on like with Edler, but a guy I’m keeping my eye on is Bobby Ryan.
Ryan wasn’t as great of a fit in Ottowa as many had hoped, and there’s a good chance he’s leaving next summer as a UFA. The Sens, who might also me trading Jason Spezza, could capitalize on Ryan’s value and just do a flat out rebuilding year. Ryan could sign with the Bruins, and he could also be the top ling right wing of the future. Rumor has it that Ryan, from Southern Jersey, has preferred an east coast, American team. For him, the B’s might fit. But would Bobby Ryan fit for the Bruins? Forget what Brian Burke says, but it is legitimate to wonder if Ryan is physical and tough enough to be 1RW in the Bruins’ system. He makes $5.1M, which is also a lot, so Chiarelli might have to convince his old team to take on some of Ryan’s salary in a retained salary transaction. That’s gonna be difficult.
Probably more intelligently, the B’s could just go for a few cheaper replacements if Iggy doesn’t re-sign. Maybe they could see what Daniel Alfredsson would be willing to play for in order to win a Cup, and then maybe they would go for a second stint of Benoit Pouliot, or at least someone like that.
Dream Scenario, and the More Realistic Dream Scenario:
My wet dream that is probably just a pipe dream is that Iginla takes a slight discount and takes a bonus-laden contract, the B’s re-sign Reilly Smith, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski for below what they’re worth (Hopefully like $4 million combined for Smith and Krug, and about $800k for Bart), Chiarelli amnesties Kelly and McQuaid, and pinch pennies where they should. Because of all this, they have more money than they realized, opening the door for them to sign Ryan Callahan once the market crashes for him. (It must be noted that the odds of Callahan’s market falling through are extremely slim. Some team is going to want him and his high salary demands, especially with the cap rising — his childhood team, the Sabres, might go above and beyond.) Callahan signs a 1 year, “prove it” deal in order to cash in next summer when the cap might rise by even more, and he and the B’s will both do the deal because the team’s style of play is great for him. The Bruins skate into the 2014-2015 season with a lineup of:
Marchand-Bergeron-Callahan (Have to match Cally with Bergy)
Fraser (They might need to trade Campbell and put Fraser at 4RW to make the dollars work — Campbell for Callahan? Fair swap, I guess.
Some super cheap 14th forward
Some dirt cheap goalie.