Examining the Bruins potential salary cap situation

timthomas.jpgEarlier today, James told you about the Bruins signing defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to a four-year contract extension and mentioned, briefly, that the Bruins could be running into issues with the salary depending on the moves they’re looking at making once the off-season officially begins.

Taking a look at the Bruins salary cap situation for next year courtesy of CapGeek, there’s some interesting choices to be made. If you’re to believe what their list says and that guys like Trent Whitfield, Zach Hammil, Brad Marchand and Jeff Penner are going to make the Bruins roster next year, that’s an added $3.3 million dollars that’s free to go to AHL Providence without fear of going on waivers, thanks to the two-way contract. That said, if you send that money to the AHL, then you’re looking at just over $51 million committed to seven forwards, five defensemen and two goalies. Yikes.

The two-way contract is the Bruins’ key (and other teams for the record) to escaping salary cap issues, so the Bruins to have the room to free up even that much money is pretty fantastic. The problems come in when you’ve got potentially good players with two-way deals that you’d rather have playing for the big club when it comes to their contracts. Not for nothing, but I only mention this because now former Denver University center Joe Colborne could make a run at getting a start in Boston. His $1.2 million entry-level salary might dictate otherwise though should the Bruins have other ideas in free agency.

Also playing into that will be the contract for the second overall pick they take in this year’s draft. The previous two #2 picks in the draft (Victor Hedman in 2009, Drew Doughty 2008) make about $3.5 million per year on their entry level deals. Counting in either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin for about that much money should be banked upon, unless they plan on having them stay in juniors for another year (doubtful).

Whether the NHLPA decides to accept the escalator that decides whether the salary cap goes from $56 million to $58 million will obviously have a lot to do with what teams like the Bruins will do personnel-wise, but with three seemingly key players also checking in as restricted free agents (Mark Stuart, Vladimir Sobotka, and Blake Wheeler) the Bruins are going to have be a bit more wise about the salary decisions than they have been in recent years.

If you’re a Bruins fan and you’re hoping that the B’s will solve their goal-scoring problems by wading into the Ilya Kovalchuk waters, consider this to be your glass of cold water thrown in your face.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”