According to Capgeek, the Bruins are about $800k over the cap with the following forwards on the roster (I’ll use numbers for the guys with obvious spots, and I’ll list linemates together): 17-46-21, 63-37, 23-34, 20-11, Justin Florek, Jordan Caron, and Marc Savard. The first note we need to make is that Savard’s money will obviously be put on LTIR, saving the B’s a little over $4 million on the first day of the season. The second thing to note is that Capgeek includes neither Ryan Spooner nor Matt Fraser, the latter of which is especially suspect.
In fact, let’s start there. Assuming that Reilly Smith gets the 2RW spot and Torey Krug gets the 5D spot (more on them later), the Bruins’ biggest need is obviously on the wing, which is probably a good thing. I’d rather have my team having a hole at wing than either center, defenseman, or goalie. Chris Kelly will probably play on Soderberg’s left wing as he did last year when Soderberg usurped him as 3C, meaning that the B’s need a 3RW, 4RW (Bye Shawn Thornton!), and an extra forward or two. Fraser has to be one of them. His salary will be $625k, only $25,000 more than Caron or Florek, and he played at least $25,000 better than either of them in the playoffs this past year (only because of froyo). Since he did well with Soderberg, let’s slide him at 3RW, and we’ll put Florek at 4RW and have Caron as the 13th forward, which is basically his life’s calling.
But that is way too easy. The elephant in the room is that the Bruins are gonna have to trade someone, as Chiarelli even admitted recently. He admitted to having to trade a defenseman, which seems obvious given that the B’s are set on D with 33, 44, 55, 27, 43, 86, 54, and Torey Krug when he signs. Seems like now is the point of the column where we crunch salaries and figure out who leaves.
As you might guess, this comes down to how much the Bruins screw over Torey Krug and Reilly Smith with negotiations (let’s be real, RFA negotiations in the NHL when no other team offers a guy a contract is just highway robbery), and how much either guy holds out. If Smith and/or Krug hold out into the season like PK Subban 2 years ago, this could be a problem.
Last year, Derek Stepan was in the same situation with the Rangers, and he got a little over $3 million per year for 2 years. Subban got $2.625 million in each of his 2 years. Subban and Stepan were both better than Smith or Krug at the time, although the difference between Stepan and Smith is pretty small. Chiarelli should obviously, and probably will, cave to whatever demands that Smith and Krug make regarding the number of years on the contract, so long as the cap hit is kept lower. Despite the fact that the cap is going up by the day, Chiarelli will probably be able to use Subban’s deal as a ceiling for Krug’s, since even Krug will admit he’s not that good. Stepan’s deal might be a ceiling for Reilly.
So I’m gonna pencil Smith in at 1 year, $2.5 million and Krug at 1 year, $2.25 million just for the sake of argument. That’s $4.75 million. (Hang on, I’m just checking your math.) That puts the Bruins roughly $5.5 million over the cap, or $1.5 million minus Savard’s LTIR contract.
Seems like there’s a simple fix here. Trade Adam McQuaid. He makes $1.56 million. Done, right? Wrong. You may have noticed that, even with Smith and Krug added in and McQuaid traded, we’re only at 12 forwards and 7 defenseman with Capgeek’s estimate. They didn’t put Fraser and another guy on the roster, whether that’s David Warsofsky, Ryan Spooner, or whoever.
So the Bruins have to make either a different move from the McQuaid one or a move in addition to trading One Tough Hombre. The two names that have been floated are Carl Soderberg and Johnny Boychuk. Soderberg isn’t going anywhere, because his contract will only get him $1 million next year. That’s the kind of cheap labor the Bruins need, so there’s no reason to trade him. The thought of trading Boychuk would scare me, because he’s the only guy that could even pretend to be a number 2 DMan if Seidenberg isn’t the same and if Dougie doesn’t take a huge step. Bill Belichick would trade Boychuk’s $3.37 million contract, sell high, and get good calue with just a year left on his deal, but I don’t think that’ll work this year. You gotta keep Boychuk for the playoffs.
Fun fact: Chris Kelly’s no trade clause just changed massively with the start of the new season. In the first 2 years of his horrible 4 year, $12 million deal, he had a full NTC. Now, he can give a list of 8 teams to which he will accept a trade, and the B’s absolutely have to exercise this option. Trading Chris Kelly makes sense for multiple reasons. The first is the obvious salary concern, but let’s also remember that he’s no longer the above average 3rd line center that he was in the playoffs of 2011 and 2012. He’s a slightly above average, injury prone 3rd line left wing, making his $6 million over the next 2 years look pretty bad. But the other reason to send him to whatever team takes him is Ryan Spooner. The B’s always like having 5 centers on the roster, and right now Kelly is the 5th guy. So move him. Make room for Spooner. In fact, I’d put Spooner at 4C and Campbell at RW to really let the kid spread his wings, and then maybe change that come playoff time to go with a sure plan.
So that’d be my choice. Ask Chris Kelly where he wants to go, and trade him there along with Adam McQuaid and whatever draft picks are necessary to make it go through. Kelly’s deal also runs through next year, which could be really, really bad given that Boychuk’s and Dougie’s contract will be up. I’d probably have Fraser and Florek on the 3rd line with Soderberg and Spooner on the 4th, and then call up Warsofsky as the 23rd guy.
That leaves the Bruins roster at 17-46-21, 63-37-18, 25-34-57, 20-51-11, 38, 33-55, 44-27, 47-43, 86, and Warsofsky or whoever the last guy is. I’m cool with that.
And if you’re hesitant about the fact that the Bruins would be trading a ton just to get rid of a guy, thereby giving up multiple positive assets for nothing, remember, this problem didn’t fall out of the sky. Peter Chiarelli made a mistake with the Kelly and Seidenberg extensions, and he also made a mistake by giving Matt Bartkowski $1.25 million before signing Smith or Krug (WHY!!!???). There was some bad luck with McQuaid’s constant injuries, but these issues were man made by a GM that is usually on his game. In order to get out of a mess you’ve made, you gotta pay up. I’d rather have Chiarelli pay up now in order to make sure that the B’s still have a President’s Trophy-caliber team this year while also getting them a little bit out of cap hell for the following season.