Re-signing former Calgary Flames Captain Jarome Iginla, who became one of the 30-goal Boston top six forwards this season, may seem far more important than looking at the Bruins draft prospects this year. After all, convincing a seasoned forward- who not only hits UFA status July 1st, but has made it very clear that he’s looking to sign with cup contenders only- to skate back into the Garden this season? Seems like a top priority.
I think this is crazy. Iggy is important, but it’s time to focus on the draft.
First, while we have to look realistically at the cap space the Bruins have to work with, this shouldn’t affect Iggy. Take a deep breath, and stop Googling “Jarome Iginla contract renewal”.
No one knows exactly how much money the Bruins have to negotiate with other than Peter Chiarelli and company. I’ve been seeing numbers that range from seven million to almost ten million in cap space, and while the bottom line is that the Boston Bruins have less money to work with than I feel comfortable boasting about, this has nothing to do with Iginla.
The amount of cap space is still dependent on who- if anyone- gets traded within the next few weeks, and who they get traded for, so it’s likely that the team will make the necessary movements it takes to re-sign the thirty-six year old first liner. A popular rumor galloping around the internet is that the Bruins are going to trade left winger Brad Marchand, who has a cap hit of 4.5 million, for left winger Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets, who has a cap hit of around 5.3 million… but looking the other way, if the B’s trade Marchy for a prospect and a couple of conditional draft picks, the cap space looks a lot larger, rather than smaller. Trade analysts have also speculated about movement for fourth liner Shawn Thornton- a UFA this summer- or rookie defenseman Torey Krug, which would free up more cash for both Iggy AND the team’s extremely weak left defense, which will be costly to repair.
Next, we have to shift our focus to the talent pool that other teams will be drawing from well before we do.
The Bruins are known for making smart draft picks- after all, top six left winger Brad Marchand, who has already been a hot topic today, may have had a bad playoff run, but he’s proven himself to be someone who can hang with the best of the league’s elite players over the past five years- and Boston selected him 71st overall in his draft class.
(Do you know how many players from his round of the 2006 draft are household names now? Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, who was picked 69th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and *arguably* New York Islanders right winger Cal Clutterbuck, who was selected by the Minnesota Wild directly after the Bruins snagged Marchand.)
Additionally, the Bruins have been snapping up quiet but promising defensive players over the past few years, who have the potential to cost much less to sign than already established players floating around the free trade market this summer. During the 2013 preseason, the Boston coaching staff actually had to turn away some of the defensive prospects they had skating in the first few games due to the overwhelming amount of defensive talent the team had already. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevan Miller continued to put up positive numbers next season as a mid-year contract, and 20-year-old defensive style left wing powerhouse Anthony Camara has been making waves on the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. Of 58 games played, Camara- who doesn’t turn 21 until September- had only nine goals and thirteen assists- but plays defensively as a forward, which might be what the B’s front lines need. If he doesn’t skate with the big dogs next year, I’ll give everyone twenty bucks. *Don’t quote me on this, please.*
That being said, I think this is only further proof that the draft is just as crucial- if not more so- this year as it has been in the past.
Everyone is concerned about who is going to select eighteen-year-old Wonder boy defenseman Aaron Ekblad on June 27th. Right now, it’s looking like that’s could be the Florida Panthers, who haven’t been a cup contender in almost fourteen years. (I don’t need to remind Boston fans of the last time the Panthers looked good). If they hire Bylsma as a coach, and he brings some of his favorite players from Pittsburgh with him, AND they get Eckblad? Boston’s going to need to start monitoring this division rival again.
Even if the rumors are true, and the Panthers decide to trade away their first overall draft pick, Boston picks 25th this year. There are a number of promising young defensemen to look at, but there are 24 teams who are looking at these kids, too… and can get to them first.
While I can’t think of anything more exciting than getting another eighty-two-plus games with Iggy, we all need to take a deep breath, let the negotiations roll, and look at the up-and-comers we’ll be welcoming to the Black and Gold on June 27th.
Check back Monday for the next part of this series. In honor of the trade rumors that have been circulating the web, we’ll talk about the biggest trades made by the Bruins in the past decade, and what they’ve meant for the team.