So what's the best way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup? It won't be by flipping cars over and setting things on fire, as it was in lovely Vancouver after Game 7. Instead, with the Bruins as distantly removed from being Cup-worthy right now as they've been at any time in the five years since they hoisting Lord Stanley's chalice, let's settle for a Hagg Bag mailbag
Haggs .... Any news on the Bruins re-signing Marchand? I see people saying give krug $5mill a yr. Too much IMO
--Nate Raymond (@nater085)
No news because they can't officially re-sign Marchand until July 1, when he enters the final year of his contract. Some believe the Bruins don't intend to extend Marchand beyond next season, but I don't believe that for a second. Given his attitude, his production level, his all-around effectiveness and his close ties to Patrice Bergeron, I just don't see that happening. He'll get his $6 million per season from the Bruins. Or he'll get it someplace else, but I believe they'll at least try to re-sign him.
But I also think an extension isn't going to be a front-burner priority until the Bruins deal with their own free agents and restricted free agents. That means figuring out what they're going to do with Krug, who is going to command $4 million-$5 million per season on a long-term deal based on his offensive numbers, and the top-4 role he was able to play as the second-best defensemen Boston had last season. The question is whether the Bruins want to be the team to pay that kind of money to a smaller-sized defensemen who needed shoulder surgery after his first season playing 20-plus minutes per game (21:37 to be exact). I'll always bet on Krug and his skills because – in addition to the puck-moving abilities and strong shot from the point -- he has heart and a chip on his shoulder to prove himself that will never disappear, and those two things are key ingredients to many successful athletes. He also has 0.52 points per game as a D-man in his three-season NHL career, and that's a big number that can't be ignored.
Krug could be a key trade chip, however, and has plenty of value to other teams looking for an offensive-minded left-shot defenseman. That could be on the table if the Bruins decide they don't want to pay $5 million a year for Krug. I don't foresee that happening because I think Don Sweeney really likes Krug as a player. But if we've learned one thing with this Bruins management group it's this: Anything is possible.
Is the window on buying #44 closed or is that still and option for the Bruins?
--Jason Lipovsky (@Lipper71124)
The window for NHL buyouts opened today and won't close until June 30, so the Bruins have the rest of the month to decide if they want to buy out the 34-year-old German defenseman's contract. Seidenberg has clearly slowed down after a lot of heavy miles in a Bruins uniform, and has been a minus player for two straight in Boston. He would be a bottom-pairing defenseman on most teams at this point, but was forced into top-4 duty most nightslast season.
If they were to buy out Seidenberg, the Bruins would be on the hook for a $1,166,667 cap hit for the next four years while enjoying savings off his $4 million cap hit for the final two seasons of Seidenberg's contract. It's an option the Bruins will certainly consider. But I think a much more likely option for cap savings will be a trade of Adam McQuaid after signing Kevan Miller to the much-maligned four year contract for $10 million. The savings for the next two years would be roughly equal to buying out Seidenberg, and the Bruins wouldn't still be paying off the buyout for an extended couple of seasons.
I also still think that, at 34, Seidenberg can bring something of value next season after back surgery set him back last year in training camp.
If the Bruins have a player who files for salary arbitration (as Krug will have the right to do should the Bruins attempt to sign him to another short-term bridge deal), then another buyout window would open up even if the Bruins decide to skip the buyout option this month.
Hi Haggs,Love your stuff. Keep up the good work. Sometimes, though, you are just wrong. Contrary to the negative reactions out there (including of course yours), the Kevan Miller contract is NOT a bad contract. WHY? Here are 6 reasons:
1. You want bad contracts - see Brooks Orpik, Jeff Petry, Dan Girardi, Andrej Sekera, Marc Staal, Matt Carle. All $5.5 mil or higher. Yikes! Those are enormous overpays for mediocre talent. It's all relative. The Miller contract doesn't crack the Top 115 highest paid D contracts. Here are some comparables in the $2-2.8 range: Wiercioch, Kindl, Clitsome, Hickey, Nick Schultz, Brendan Smith, Mark Stuart, Tom Gilbert. Then you have these guys over $3 mil: Robidas, Smid, Stoner, Ohlund, Fayne, Brad Stuart and yes, John-Michael Liles. Conclusion: Defense doesn't come cheap. You need to pay up. Those are not sexy names there.
2. EVERYBODY is looking for that elusive young cheap mobile D man. Prices on the trade and free agent markets will be through the roof. You think GM's are going to just give away someone like Ceci, Theodore, Vatanen, Dumba or Barrie? Get real. There will be plenty of eyebrows raised when trades go down this summer and price tags are revealed. As I said, defense doesn't come cheap.
3. Have you seen this summer's free agents? Yandle, Hamhuis, Goligoski, Campbell will all get $5 mil and up. If they don't, they'll resign where they are. The rest? Stiffs - Mike Weber, Matt Bartkowski, Dan Boyle, Kris Russell, Schlemko, Quincey, Zidlicky, Gryba, Nikitin, etc. Garbage. Give me Miller. And don't even talk about RFA's - offer sheets don't work.
4. The contract speaks volumes about Trotman and Morrow. There's a pecking order, and those guys are on the bottom, probably gone. All the people out there talking about the D being soft and needing to get tougher were certainly not talking about Kevan Miller.
5. Why 4 years? Two years from now the Chara and Seidenberg contracts are up. More years for Miller gives continuity at a mid-level price. Sweeney may try to move one or both of the Chara/Seidenberg contracts. Good luck with that. Old slow expensive guys are not in great demand in today's go-go NHL.
6. There is no help from Providence and the prospects are not ready. Zboril, Lauzon, Grzelcyk, O'Gara may all be NHL players some day, but they are at least two, probably more, years away. The lone exception is Brandon Carlo. Carlo was fantastic in the U-18 tournament and flashes plenty of upside. He'll get every opportunity at 19 to make the big club, but expect a two-way role for him like we saw from Colin Miller this year. I expect him to spend more time in Providence than Boston unless injuries take a toll.
Having said all that, I truly believe Don Sweeney when he says he'll be looking to add another piece to remake the D this summer. Get ready for him to swing a trade which will cause the fan base to once again overreact and scream that the B's paid too much in trade or too much in cap dollars. Once again, defense doesn't come cheap. Fortunately, the B's will have the cap space to add a big piece this summer, whether it's on D or the wing.
As you like to say, keep shooting the puck and good things are bound to happen,
Thanks, Paul. I think you're wrong for about 20 different reasons, but I'm going to let you have your say about Kevan Miller unassailed since you said such nice things about me. I can tell you're a knowledgeable hockey guy simply by your email, but let's just agree to disagree on this one, shall we?
I was wondering how other teams GM's look at Sweeney? In the year he's been GM there has been bad trades (Hamilton, Rinaldo), bad signings (McQuaid, Miller), a botched deadline (keeping Eriksson, trading assets for Liles and Stemp), and suspect drafting (passing on Connor and Barzal). Does it make it harder for Sweeney to make a good trade when they see how poorly it's gone so far?Thanks, Ray Guarino
This is a really good question, Ray. It's also one I don't have an answer for because I haven't asked other GMs specifically what they thought about Sweeney (and I doubt they'd tell the truth if those thoughts were unflattering). My guess: They view him as hard-working and diligent, but also as very inexperienced at a very difficult job.
Sweeney flat-out dropped the ball with the entire Dougie Hamilton/moving-up-in-the-first-round situation last summer at the draft, and it had a lasting, negative impact on the Bruins for this entire season. He'll get a chance to redeem himself this summer, but none of the other 29 NHL general managers are going to throw him a life preserver. He'll have to earn it with savvy moves.
Haggs, I was wondering what are the Bruins going to do with their 2 [first round] picks? Also who do you think the Bruins will target in FA
--Eugene Mannarino (@steelman58)
I think the Bruins will draft either Dante Fabbro or Charlie McAvoy with the 14th overall pick to nab another potential top-4 defenseman, and then I could easily see them dealing the 29th overall pick for some defense help now. That wouldn't be enough in a package to get them a Jacob Trouba-type player, but maybe it could get them a lesser puck-mover that could still help them, or a big right winger. Either way, I don't see the Bruins making both first-round picks after drafting three players in the first round last year.
As far as free agency goes, Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski are the two names that jump out at me if they need to go the free-agency route to upgrade their blue line. Both could help right now. But I also suspect that would mean they'd deal Krug if they intend on signing one of those two left shot, puck-movers.
Haggs, what names are you hearing as possible replacements for Cassidy in Providence?
The only name I've heard, to be honest, is Kevin Dean. A long-time assistant to Bruce Cassidy in Providence, he was a big factor in the development of young D-men like Krug, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Zach Trotman and Kevan Miller, and has a good handle on the Providence players currently at the AHL level of their development track.
I've heard the Bruins are big fans of Providence College coach Nate Leaman, and perhaps they end up going that route to groom another potential NHL coach-in-the-making. But there's every chance Dean could be a guy with the ability to run his own bench in the NHL someday as well.
Why aren't the B's buying out Chara's contract? Is it not time for Zee to move on and hand over the C to Bergy???
--Peter LeClair (via CSN Facebook page)
The Bruins aren't buying out Zdeno Chara's contract for a couple of different reasons. First, he's still the best defensemen they have and could be a valuable player if they can upgrade the D-corps around him. Second, Chara has plenty of trade value if the Bruins find themselves once again stuck in neutral with no real hopes of playoff glory and decide to ask him to waive his no-movement clause, in the hopes of sending him to a contending team looking for a defensive stopper.
So it makes little sense to buy out a player that could still prove who could be a valuable asset. It would be easy to see Chara moved to a place like Chicago or Los Angeles, where Slovakian buddies like Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik play, or to one of the Florida teams, where Chara lives for a good chunk of the offseason.
As far as the captaincy goes, everybody knows that Bergeron will be getting the 'C' in the next couple of years anyway. Is anybody in favor of wasting a still-valued asset like Chara simply because fans think Bergeron needs a 'C' instead of an 'A' on his sweater? Believe me, he's still the same leader of men in the B's dressing room regardless of the letter he's wearing.
Do the Bruins have anything to worry about when it comes to the new Vegas NHL team draft?
--Brian Millers (via CSN Facebook page)Sure they do. Bergeron, Chara, Seidenberg, David Krejci, Matt Beleskey and Tuukka Rask would have to be protected right off the bat, given their varying no-movement clauses, so that takes up some of the seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie teams will be allowed to protect. Marchand, Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Frank Vatrano would round out the forwards getting protected, and Krug would likely be the final defensemen protected after his contract extension. That would leave McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Colin Miller and Jimmy Hayes exposed for a potential Las Vegas expansion draft. Should the Bruins re-sign Loui Eriksson, then Spooner or Vatrano could be exposed.
The Bruins might have to expose one of those players anyway, depending on the forwards/defensemen they bring in this summer to upgrade their roster, so this is kind of an incomplete exercise until we see what the team looks like next October. It also depends on what the NHL's final qualification is for two years of pro experience, and the players with less than that getting exemption from the expansion draft.
The bottom line: They may lose somebody of value, but it's tough to forecast exactly who that might be at this point. It feels like the organization is hopeful the Las Vegas team will take the Miller contract off their hands, but I'm not sure they'll be so lucky.
I said it late in the season that our "Little ball of hate" is transforming into a "Little ball of love!" Soon Habs fans will be cheering for Marchy. Well maybe that's going a bit too far. Go Canada Go!
--Bob Boisclair (via CSN Facebook page)
Habs fans cheering for Nose Face Killah? C'mon now Bob, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The next thing you're going to tell me that P.K. Subban is going to get traded to the Bruins this summer . . . wait a sec.
See you guys and gals after the draft for the next Hagg Bag mailbag.