How could the Boston Bruins clear up some salary cap space?

1 Comment

Thumbnail image for timthomas.jpgIn case you missed it, the Boston Bruins decided to honor the arbitrator’s award and take on Blake Wheeler’s perfectly reasonable one-year, $2.2 million deal. Wheeler might not be a proven commodity, but he’s a big body who is worth a single season shot.

Of course, you’re probably also aware that the Bruins are in quite a salary cap pickle. They’re basically over the salary cap by Wheeler’s contract, so someone’s going to need to go whether it’s via a trade, a minor league assignment or a buyout. The situation is pretty intriguing, so I thought I’d break down some of the team’s most commonly discussed options to see which ones might be the most desirable.

Trade Marc Savard

I’ll get deeper into the latest rumor of the Kings inquiring about Savard later tonight, but let me discuss the bigger picture regarding the playmaking center.

There are a few things that make Savard a desirable candidate. He’s one of the league’s most gifted passers, putting up assist totals of 23 in only 41 games last year, 63 twice, 69, and 74 in the last five seasons. Savard was one of the NHL’s best bargains in his previous deal, but now his cap hit is even more reasonable at just more than $4 million.

Of course, there are some minuses too. The aforementioned cap-cheap deal is a baby Kovalchuk contract, with his final two years paying him at a league minimum. That would be fine-and-dandy except that the 33-year-old center suffered some serious concussion problems thanks to that notorious Matt Cooke hit. Any other GM must wonder if the Bruins are trying to get rid of Savard so soon after signing him because he’s still having issues.

Trade Tim Thomas

While Savard is a salary cap steal, former Vezina winner Thomas’s deal is an eye sore. He’s making $5 million per year and his deal is a 35+ contract, so you cannot even pray for him to retire to experience cap relief. Considering the bone-dry free agent market, why would a team want to clog its cap with a guy who couldn’t live up to a big deal? On the bright side, the Bruins at least will get a little security if Tuukka Rask falters Steven Mason-style.

Take a look at a couple other options after the jump


Thumbnail image for michaelryderbrotherofdan.jpgTrade/Demote Michael Ryder

After putting together a solid 27 goal, 26 assist campaign in 2008-09, Ryder floundered from 53 to 33 points last season. His playoff production also regressed considerably. My guess is that another team would only take on Ryder if the Bruins absorbed some of their cap headaches, so chances are that a demotion would be the most realistic option for the pouting power forward. My guess is that their penny-pinching owner might have some qualms with paying him $4 million to play in the AHL, though.

Play entry-level chicken with Tyler Seguin

One notion is to allow Seguin to play nine games and then ship him to the AHL before the team loses a year of his entry-level deal. While that would be a clever salary cap trick, I think it all comes down to production. If Seguin is as sensational as many expect, then he’ll be worth keeping with the big club. Even if that will mean jumping over some high, headache-filled hurdles.

Trade Andrew Ference

Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha.

So, anyway, those are the five most prevalent routes the Bruins might go to clear up some cap space. Naturally, other options could sprout up for GM Peter Chiarelli. That being said, what option seems the most advisable or realistic to the Bruins? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Ristolainen suspended three games for hit that concussed Guentzel

Leave a comment

Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been suspended three games for interfering with Pens forward Jake Guentzel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday.

Ristolainen was given a five-minute interference major and game misconduct for the hit in Tuesday night’s tilt, which left Guentzel bloodied and, as we later learned, with a concussion.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed the diagnosis in his postgame presser.

Ristolainen, 22, didn’t have any prior history with the DoPS, which has yet to release a video explanation for the punishment. It could be argued that Guentzel was in a prone position, and that Ristolainen took advantage of it.

“I thought it was bad,” Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said of the hit, per the Buffalo News. “The puck doesn’t get to him. He’s looking to get the puck to get into the play, and the guy holds up a second and then he still goes through him.”

As a result of today’s announcement, Ristolainen will now sit out Buffalo’s game on Saturday against Toronto, Mar. 27 against Florida and Mar. 28 against Columbus. He’ll be eligible to return on Sunday, Apr. 2, when the Sabres take on the Isles.

Ristolainen will also forfeit $90,000 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Pre-game reading: Does the NHL’s playoff format need fixing?

1 Comment

— Up top, Brian Boucher and Mike Milbury have their say on NHL participation in the Olympics, something Gary Bettman continues to put into doubt.

— At least fans can still be certain there will be playoff hockey. That being said, does the NHL’s format need fixing? Because as it stands right now, at least one of Washington, Pittsburgh, or Columbus is guaranteed to be gone after the first round, and only one of those three can survive past the second round. The Capitals, Penguins, and Blue Jackets are first, second, and third in the overall standings, respectively. Hence, the debate. (The Washington Post)

— The Caps take on the Blue Jackets tonight in D.C., and Barry Trotz is looking forward to the fight for playoff positioning. The Caps, you’ll recall, coasted to first place in the Metro Division last season. But they can’t afford to coast now. “Having gone both routes now, I prefer this,” Trotz said. “Because it’s more meaningful. … It was in our hands too early last year, and I think it took a little edge off. You get too comfortable for too long, you get too soft.” (Washington Post)

— Don’t expect the NBA’s controversial practice of resting star players to become a common problem for the NHL. Said Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty: “I just think hockey’s a different kind of animal where I don’t think guys would want to do it. Guys are stubborn enough to probably fight it if they were asked and that’s how I would see that going down.” (Canadian Press)

— Why Dave Hakstol won’t be fired, by Flyers beat reporter Dave Isaac, who writes: “It took multiple pleas to woo Hakstol from a much more comfortable college job at the University of North Dakota. To fire Hakstol this early would be an admission from Hextall that this part of his grand plan — hiring the coach that he thought would grow with the roster — was wrong.” (Courier-Post)

William Nylander may sometimes get overshadowed in Toronto by fellow Maple Leafs rookies Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. But with 20 goals in 70 games, what Nylander has done is still very impressive. (The Hockey News)

Enjoy the games!

Bowling Green goalie Nell leaves school, signs with Rangers

1 Comment

The Blueshirts added to their goaltending depth on Thursday, signing Bowling Green junior Chris Nell to an entry-level contract.

Nell, 22, just wrapped his junior campaign at Bowling Green, going 17-14-2 with a 2.15 GAA and .916 save percentage. This year, he became the school’s all-time leader in career shutouts, this after a terrific sophomore campaign in which he finished with a sparking 1.31 GAA and .930 save percentage.

An undrafted free agent, Nell now joins an organization with several young netminders in the mix. Mackenzie Skapski, a 2013 draftee, made his NHL debut two years ago but has struggled this season, splitting time between AHL Hartford and ECHL Greenville. Brandon Halverson, a second-rounder in ’14, has also split time between Hartford and Greenville, and was recently recalled to New York on an emergency basis.

New York has also drafted Russian netminder Igor Shesterkin (fourth round, ’14), Slovak Adam Huska (seventh round, ’15) and UMass-Lowell product Tyler Wall (sixth round, ’16).

 

On verge of missing playoffs, Red Wings aim to keep winning culture

Getty
5 Comments

The Detroit Red Wings have no intention of tearing their roster down and undertaking a painful rebuild, a la the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Why not, you ask?

Because even though the Wings are going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, and even though their leading scorer (Henrik Zetterberg) is 36 years old, they don’t want to lose the culture that made them so successful over the past quarter century.

“There are organizations where they have lost culture,” said head coach Jeff Blashill, per the Detroit Free Press. “They have missed the playoffs, and they miss it 10 straight years. We don’t want to be in this position again. This isn’t OK. That is the approach we are taking every day.”

We have heard other teams say similar things. For example, the Vancouver Canucks. (Which won’t make Wings fans feel great to hear.)

While there’s nothing wrong with trying to maintain a winning culture, the biggest challenge the Wings have is a lack of talent — particularly on the back end.

That’s up to GM Ken Holland to solve, and solve relatively quickly, given his lack of appetite for a lengthy rebuild.

“We’re going to continue to try and be competitive, we’re going to continue to try and make the playoffs and our ultimate goal is to eventually be a Cup contender,” Holland said a few months ago.

“To me, rebuild means eight to 10 years, and there are teams that have made the playoffs one year in 10 while rebuilding.”

Related: It’s going to be a very different draft for the Red Wings