During what could go down as a painful offseason for the Bruins’ defense, they at least kept underrated blueliner Matt Grzelcyk in the fold. The Bruins announced a four-year deal for Grzelcyk, 26, one that carries a $3.6875M cap hit.
After losing Krug and waiting on Chara, Bruins sign Matt Grzelcyk
Upon first hearing about a four-year, $14.75 million contract for Grzelcyk, it sounded a bit steep. Honestly, that might boil down to how many bargains Boston managed to squeeze out of its best blueliners over the years.
They’ve been getting Zdeno Chara to go year-to-year, generally with team-friendly contracts. Charlie McAvoy gives the Bruins near-Norris-level defense at just under $5 million. Before he signed with the Blues, Torey Krug‘s last contract only carried a $5.25M cap hit. Between those defensemen and killer deals for David Pastrnak/Brad Marchand, one just grew accustomed to Boston landing bargains.
But maybe this offseason of change boils down, in some ways, to that bill finally coming.
Along with Krug being Blues-bound, Chara’s future remains unclear. Rather than echoing the Blues (who replaced Alex Pietrangelo with Krug), the Bruins might count on improvement from within.
Perhaps Grzelcyk will transition smoothly to a bigger role?
Important to note as Grzelcyk should be in line for a major bump in minutes next season. https://t.co/Aiahu6WluQ
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 17, 2020
Overall, it doesn’t seem like the Bruins signed Grzelcyk to an outrageous sum. Evolving Hockey’s contract projection tool forecasted a four-year contract with a $3.559M cap hit, so this wasn’t too far off the mark. It’s just a case where the Bruins actually had to fork over market value.
Checking out his Hockey Viz charts, Matt Grzelcyk makes his biggest impact on defense. When it comes to replace Krug’s power play influence, Boston would likely be better off going with McAvoy. Or maybe even someone else? Perhaps even a bold five-forward PP experiment?
Slightly lower expectations for Bruins?
Even after the savvy addition of forward Craig Smith, the Bruins could take a step back in 2020-21. Or, at least, they might need to keep their eyes out for Nate Schmidt-type trade opportunities. (They also still have an RFA situation to settle with Jake DeBrusk.)
That said, if Matt Grzelcyk can step up after the Bruins signed him to this deal, the slippage might be limited.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.