Where Do The Boston Bruins Look Now In Free Agency?
Yesterday, Boston Bruins fans were among some of the unhappiest in the league as a whole. While Buffalo and Florida picked up big names in the race to the cap floor, Chiarelli sat silently nursing the meager funds the team has to spend. The Western Conference as a whole became a conference of dynamite, and the B’s… well, they’ve only lost men. No one was signed, and UFA’s Shawn Thornton, Andrej Meszaros, and Jarome Iginla received new deals elsewhere.
Bruins fans have plenty cause to be concerned. According to CapGeek, the team is suffering from almost five million dollars in overages penalties, leaving somewhere around five million dollars to supplement the 12-man roster currently under contract. Here’s a handy list of who still needs to be signed, and how much money they might expect to receive next year, based on how they’ve played in the past:
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
Corey Potter, D- $600,000-$800,000
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
Torey Krug, D- $900,000-$3 million
Matt Bartkowski, D- $700,000-$900,000
Reilly Smith, RW- $900,000-$2 million
Jordan Caron, RW- $700,000-$900,000
Justin Florek, LW- $600,000-$800,000
The team also lost a first line forward when Iginla signed a 3-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche, a depth forward when Thornton signed with the Florida Panthers for $1.2 million, and an experienced defenseman when Meszaros went to the Buffalo Sabres. This means that in addition to the 4 to 7 million dollars the team needs to spend to bring back the six men listed above, there are now three open positions on the roster that need to be filled.
Many fans have been criticizing Peter Chiarelli for the loss of Iginla and Thornton on July 1st. After all, both players worked well for the team. With the situation the team’s finances are currently in, though, it just wasn’t feasible without losing a few key players. In order to re-sign Iggy, players like Brad Marchand, Johnny Boychuk, or even two or three smaller players (i.e. Krug, Bartkowski, Caron, Paille) would have had to be moved in order to clear up the cap space. Iginla had made it clear that he was looking for a multi-year deal at a price the Bruins couldn’t afford, and the Avs were able to provide that.
What does this mean for the team, though?
For starters, some of the younger players are going to get to see more ice time. Players like Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner, Matt Lindblad, and Anthony Camara should all expect to suit up wearing the spoked B next year instead of hanging around Providence. Newcomer Loui Eriksson, who had been a part of the trade with Dallas that sent Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin south, might get moved up to the first line.
In addition, it’s likely that someone is going to get moved. Chiarelli made it clear that he didn’t want to change the current lineup very much, but the loss of Iginla will hurt if the team can’t find a way to replace him. Boston has never been big on 50-goal scorers and flashy superstars, instead relying on good team play and strong two-way defense… yet, without one of the team’s four 30-goal scorers, it’s likely that Boston won’t be quite the cup contender they have been for the past couple of years. The second line alone scored fifty goals, but the drop between that second line- which contained Alternate Captain Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Reilly Smith- and the third line was drastic. While this was due in part to the line being plagued with injuries all season, this still suggests that the men called up to play for Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson aren’t capable of producing the way the third line should on a team that rolls four lines.
My suggestions? Move players who aren’t performing well in the less tangible ways. Jordan Caron, who was the team’s extra forward on the roster, had some of the worst puck possession stats in the league- but also looked sloppy and unable to read his teammates in the same way that some of the younger guys, such as Lindblad, Spooner, and Fraser, could. Chris Kelly spent the majority of the season battling injuries, and wasn’t the kind of leader on-ice that he has been in the past. Matt Bartkowski was all over the place, having as many showings where he looked a hot mess as games where he looked on point. Moving one of these guys- all of whom are able to be moved in one way or another, according to their contracts- for someone who can provide tangible numbers might be what the team needs to do. Many of the providence forwards I mentioned earlier will be able to step up into good depth forward roles, leaving the team with only one or two spots needing a new guy.
Keep an eye out for any movement out of Boston, though- because when something happens, I have my money on it being big.