Do's and Don'ts for the Bruins offseason
Do's and Don'ts for the Bruins offseason
The Bruins are a team in transition. They're also a team without a lot of cap space, meaning they'll have an interesting offseason ahead of them in a summer that includes, among other things, an expansion draft and a new contract due to one of the team's best young players.
Here's how the B's should navigate the offseason.
DO: Sign David Pastrnak to a longterm deal
Pastrnak finished the last year of his entry-level deal with 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points. Boy. Bout. To get. Paid.
But how much? His camp sees Filip Forsberg, Sean Monahan and Mark Scheifele -- all of whom also had at least one 25-goal-season during their rookie deals -- as comps. Forsberg got six years at $6 million annually, Monahan got seven years of $6.35 million per and Scheifele got eight times $6.12 million.
If the Bruins want to go long-term without having to extend themselves too much, something like six years at around $6.25 million should do the trick.
DON’T: Sign Kevin Shattenkirk
Defense was an issue for the Bruins this season and Kevin Shattenkirk went to BU. Match made in heaven, right? No.
Shattenkirk turned down a seven-year, $42 million deal when the Lightning tried trading for him this season. Let’s say for some reason he’d take that in Boston: The Bruins have Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and at least one of Kevan Miller/Adam McQuaid on the right side. Should a team that doesn’t have the cap space to throw big money around in free agency pay $6 million a year at a position they don’t really need?
This might be a more feasible option had the Bruins not signed David Backes last offseason, but what’s done is done there. The Bruins don’t have the money (or, to a degree, the need) for Shattenkirk.
DO: PROTECT KEVAN MILLER
I will fully admit that this might be reactionary, and it might be based on the circumstances with which the Bruins dealt this postseason.
Assuming the B’s choose to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie rather than a goalie and any eight skaters, their first two defensemen kept are obvious: Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.
Yet with guys like Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy exempt from the expansion draft, the third guy to protect comes down to Kevan Miller or Colin Miller. Though the latter is younger and more talented, the former would provide stability on the right side of a defense that figures to be led by a pair of youngsters in McAvoy and Carlo.
Colin has the higher ceiling, but a Bruins defense that is a work in progress might be better served the next two years with a steady defenseman that is coming off a strong postseason.
DON’T: MAKE CHARA THE CAP CASUALTY
The Bruins need cap space. They’ve got less than $9 million with a big raise due to David Pastrnak and ideally, other upgrades to be made.
The solution is not to trade Zdeno Chara. The Bruins should only move his team-friendly $4 million cap hit if it nets them something big in return. Why? Because despite being 40 years old, he’s the most stable thing about a defense in transition. You move him and an encouraging group with young parts might sink.
Chara is still Boston’s best defenseman. For all the promise that Charlie McAvoy showed against the Senators, it would be crazy to put everything on him as a rookie. Brandon Carlo could always hit the rookie wall. Torey Krug is good where he is, which is as a second-pairing guy.
So, if a team has a good young left-shot defenseman to trade you in a deal for Chara, maybe consider it. Just know that this team gets a lot worse if you just dump your best defenseman to save a few million.
DO: MOVE WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE SPARE PARTS
That means Ryan Spooner and, potentially, Colin Miller. Even if neither was a favorite of Bruce Cassidy (or Claude Julien, for that matter), both are good players who are still young enough.
Yet the Bruins have Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson ready to step in as Boston’s third-line center and the aforementioned logjam on the right side of the blue line. Spooner, a restricted free agent, is due for a raise off his (still steal of a) $950,000 cap hit.
To use a Chiarelli-ism, Spooner might appear to be a broken toy given that he was benched late in the postseason, but here’s what else he is: A skilled 25-year-old middle-six forward who’s a sure bet to help a power play. His five-on-five production needs work, but he’ll succeed somewhere. Assessing his trade value will be tricky, though.
DON’T: EAT DAVID KREJCI’S MONEY
The Bruins bought Dennis Seidenberg out a year too early. They should have taken the $4 million hit this season, not signed John-Michael Liles and then either traded the final year of his deal with salary retained or bought out just the one year instead of two. As is, the Bruins are entering the second of four years of dead money from Seidenberg.
So as fans lament David Krejci’s $7.25 million cap hit -- which is too high -- the solution is not to trade him with any significant salary retained. Teams can eat up to half the money, but that would mean that the B’s would have something like $3.6 million in dead money on the books for another four years, plus the $2,166,667 to Seidenberg next season and the $1,166,667 to him the following two seasons. Yuck.
When the Leafs traded Phil Kessel, they retained $1.2 million of his cap hit for the remaining seven years on his deal. That’s about as far as the Bruins should be willing to go if they move on from Krejci.
DO: MOVE JIMMY HAYES
Hayes has one year left on his contract at $2.3 million, so the B’s could go one of two routes here.
Boston could trade Hayes and eat half his deal, which would save them $1.15 million in cap space. The other option would be to buy him out, which would mean bigger savings next season but additional dead money a year later. Buying out Hayes would leave the B’s with a $566,667 cap hit with Hayes in 2017-18 (saving them $1.73 million), but $866,667 against the cap in 2018-19.
DO: KEEP THE GANG TOGETHER
Bruce Cassidy righted the ship for a middling team and got them to the playoffs. That alone should let him keep his job, though the Bruins’ relationship with Providence College head coach Nate Leaman could always lead the B’s to check out their options.
As for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely, neither have done enough to appear great at their jobs. Sweeney has not been good with money or, on a number of occasions, NHL moves. Yet he’s aced a number of draft picks (McAvoy and Carlo chief among them) that he deserves the chance to stick around while the rest of his managerial skills improve. Neely, meanwhile, got the B’s to the postseason after getting rid of the guys he didn’t want there (Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien). Both Sweeney and Neely can claim that their plan is working.
DON’T: DUMP TUUKKA RASK, YOU DUMMY
Does Tuukka Rask make more money than you’d like him to? Yes -- anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million. Yet the Bruins have worse overpays on their roster (David Backes, David Krejci), and the goaltending position is too important to just dump a guy because Felger got obsessed with saying he’s not that good.
Like with Chara, you can certainly take calls on the guy. See what’s out there. If there’s a deal that can legitimately make you better and save you money in the process, go for it. But with this defense in transition, why in the world would you choose to downgrade the position behind it?