As it stands today, the Boston Bruins have little room to work with when it comes to cap space heading into the 2014-15 season and that’s a problem considering restricted free agent defensmen Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith are without contracts.
Krug nor Smith had any leverage this summer as they wait for contracts. The pair didn’t have arbitration rights and are not eligible to sign offer sheets from other teams.
The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa points out there will be cap relief when Marc Savard is placed on the long-term injured reserved list, but even without Savard on the books, there’s little room or flexibility for general manager Peter Chiarelli to add two contracts.
The logical spot for Chiarelli to deal from is the back end where the Bruins are deep.
As we pointed out earlier this month, defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski are all unrestricted after 2014-15.
Shinzawa suggests Boychuk or Bartkowski would likely bring the biggest return for Chiarelli.
The Bruins do have significant room to play with come 2015-16, but it’s not likely all three aforementioned defensemen re-sign in Boston. Shinzawa points out the Bruins could use an experienced right-shot, right winger in return on a trade.
So Bruins fans, who do you deal if you’re in Chiarelli’s shoes?
Related: Report: Bruins’ Marc Savard to join Ottawa 67’s
Under some serious salary cap limitations, the Boston Bruins could take out a flyer on an old rival to round out their forward corps. The team extended a training camp tryout invitation to Simon Gagne, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie and the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
Some might be a little surprised that Gagne is only 34, as he’s dealt with the sort of concussion issues that seem to age a player.
Gagne also sat out the 2013-14 season thanks to a lack of interest after splitting the 2012-13 campaign between the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. He managed 16 points in 38 games that season and was similarly limited in 2011-12 with Los Angeles (17 points in 34 contests), but he’s not that far removed from being one of the league’s most prolific snipers.
At least, he’s not that far removed from those glory days as far as the Bruins are concerned. Factoring in Marc Savard’s soon-to-be negated $4.03 million cap hit, the Bruins have a bit more than $3 million to allocate to RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Taking a look at Gagne and potentially giving him a bargain deal makes a lot of sense from the Bruins’ perspective, especially since they can pass after testing the veteran winger out in training camp.
Naturally, this also opens the door for the odd sight of seeing Gagne in a Bruins uniform.
The long-time Philadelphia Flyers forward scored his fair share of goals against the B’s, with some of the most painful ones coming during Philly’s historic comeback from an 0-3 deficit in the 2010 postseason. This one may still sting for some Bruins fans:
Obviously, Gagne hasn’t shown that game-breaking form in quite some time, but the Bruins might just benefit from a little veteran forward insurance. Unlike that video above, it can’t hurt to at least take a look, right?
Many fans in Boston took it hard when resident tough guy Shawn Thornton signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in July.
After being the face of what became the modern version of the “Big Bad Bruins” he had a strong following with the crowd. He was also a big hit amongst his teammates as well.
As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com shared, Thornton’s now former teammates are lamenting the loss of the guy who would drop the gloves in their defense.
“Those are the guys you never want to give up, though,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “I don’t think people necessarily talk about it too much, but you need that kind of leadership inside the locker room. You can’t just be quiet in there. You have to have young guys step up when you lose that, and its part of the challenge. Every team has to go through it.”
Plenty of teams have different things that help get them going. The Bruins seemed to feed off emotion in their games and that’s where they believe they’ll miss Thornton. Think back on all those heated games where a big hit or a fight seemed to snap them out of a fog and they’d roll from there. It’s that brand of motivation the Bruins felt Thornton brought to them.
While he’s not the best player on the ice, he was important to the Bruins’ mindset via his leadership. Now they’ll have to get by with replacing him with someone with a different skill set. The Panthers, meanwhile, will hope that guidance can be put to good use in their seemingly very young locker room.
Bruins restricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug is still without an NHL contract, but word out of Boston is he may have a new offer to ponder.
According to a report from CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty, Krug has received an offer from a KHL team.
Haggerty points out Krug could’ve been in line for a similar three-year, $10 million deal, which Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat signed. However, with the Bruins already over the salary cap per CapGeek, Krug would have to leave money on the table to sign in Boston.
With an opportunity to build on his rookie season, which saw him appear on the Bruins’ power play, and establish himself as an NHL-regular, it’s hard to understand why Krug would seriously consider crossing the Atlantic. Following the 2014-15 season, Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Krug’s best bet would be to sign a one-year deal and seek a raise next summer where currently the Bruins have upwards of $20 million to play with.
The 23-year-old Livonia, Mich. native has 14 goals and 42 points in 82 career NHL games all with Boston. The un-drafted blue liner saw his three-year entry-level contract expire in July.
Krug burst on to the scene during the 2013 playoffs, after being recalled from Providence on an emergency basis. He appeared in 15 games for the Bruins scoring four goals and two assists after playing just three career regular season games.
If Krug decided to sign in the KHL, he wouldn’t be the only RFA to bolt overseas this summer, Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka left in favor of the Russian league signing a deal with Avangard Omsk.
Related: The Bruins have too many d-men – who will they trade?
When Jarome Iginla signed a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche in July, it left a sizable hole on the Boston Bruins’ top line.
The guy who wants to fill that spot and make it his own is Loui Eriksson. As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com shared, he’s eager to prove to coach Claude Julien he can provide the same kind of offensive punch playing on what’s already a talented first line.
“It’s definitely two great players to play with. I played two games with [David Krejci and Milan Lucic] last season, and it was nice,” said Eriksson. “We’ll see when the preseason starts, and if maybe we practice together a little bit. Then we’ll see how things work out. Krejci is a great player, and he can see the ice really well.”
Eriksson said he wasn’t happy with his first season with the Bruins after arriving in Boston in the deal that sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. He had 10 goals and 37 points in 65 games. He missed 17 games after two separate concussions, something that kept him from being the total two-way player he was in Texas.
If he’s healthy, putting him with Krejci and Lucic could be just the elixir to get the former 30-goal scorer back into offensive form. Krejci’s ability to distribute the puck and Lucic driving the net and wreaking havoc could free space for Eriksson to shoot.