With the summer off-season only a few months away — feels odd writing that because the playoffs haven’t started yet — the Boston Bruins will have a number of decisions to make, with pending unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents, as they try to squeeze in under the salary cap.
(It’s not yet known exactly what the salary cap will be for next season, although it’s expected to be in the range of $71 million to $73 million, according to a report in late January.)
On Friday, the Bruins took care of some of that business, announcing they had signed defenseman Torey Krug to a one-year, $3.4 million deal and forward Reilly Smith to a two-year, $6.85 million deal.
The Bruins, facing a cap crunch that limited what they were able to do at this week’s trade deadline, are nearing $58 million committed to 13 players for next season, according to the Boston Globe.
But general manager Peter Chiarelli believes these two deals will give the Bruins some room to move going forward.
“These are players we always liked and have a bright future for us. Term was important. It’s shorter term and gives us more flexibility and it gives them more flexibility as far as performing on a short term platform and becoming more of a fixture of us going forward,” said Chiarelli, as per CSN New England.
“The one and two year terms were important to us. These were deals that came about, the ideas and the philosophies came out a little bit more after we signed the one year deals.”
One day after Bruins coach Claude Julien became the latest to add his voice to the burgeoning anti-shootout movement — “They suck,” he said (albeit after Boston lost another one of them) — ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that NHL general managers are expected to debate the issue when they gather for meetings in Baco Raton starting March 16.
“I think there are some members of the NHL family who would like to see fewer shootouts,” commissioner Gary Bettman told Custance. “We’re not hearing that from fans. Fans like the way the game is. That’s something we’re going to discuss. I’m not sure anybody is ready to make a change.”
Bettman has long maintained his support for the shootout, pointing in the past to “research that we do on a regular basis” that “tells us overwhelmingly our fans like” the tie-breaking procedure.
But that hasn’t stopped Brian Burke from calling it a “circus stunt” or John Tortorella from labeling it a “gimmick” that “should be out of the league.”
Players such as Milan Lucic have also wondered if 3-on-3 overtime, like they’re trying this season in the AHL, might be a better way to settle more games.
As Custance notes, “Through March 3, just 5.6 percent of the AHL’s games have been decided in the shootout. That’s down from 15.6 percent last season when the AHL mirrored the NHL’s rules.”
In contrast, there have been 135 shootouts (14.0 percent of games) this season in the NHL.
The Boston Bruins announced the signing of defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith to contract extensions Friday morning.
Krug’s deal is a one-year contract worth $3.4 million while Smith gets a two-year deal worth $6.85 million ($3.425 million cap hit).
Both players were scheduled to become restricted free agents after this season.
Krug, 23, has 11 goals and 20 assists in 59 games this season.
Smith meanwhile has appeared in 63 games for the Bruins this season scoring 12 goals and 35 points.
The Bruins return to action Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Philadelphia Flyers.