This season, Zdeno Chara carries a cap hit of $4 million. Between the retained money on Matt Beleskey ($1.9 million) and the buyout charges of from Dennis Seidenberg ($2.16 million) and Jimmy Hayes ($566,667), the Bruins are paying over $4.63 million for players not on the team.
In other words, the Bruins are paying more for missteps made in Don Sweeney's early days as GM* than they are for their captain. That's because Sweeney wasn't good at the job early on. I think he is now.
(*Yes, Seidenberg was a Chiarelli signing, but it was Sweeney's decision to buy him out and sign John-Michael Liles rather than just keep Seidenberg another year and then buy out one year rather than two.)
Sweeney's tenure with the Bruins started off -- as he actually said it would -- bumpy. He made the correct choice to trade one of the franchise's cornerstones in Milan Lucic, getting a good haul in return. Yet he showed his inexperience (perhaps in a panic out of fear of an offer sheet) by getting a less-than-commensurate return in the Dougie Hamilton trade. He traded for and paid Hayes. He signed Beleskey. He gave up a third-rounder for Zac Rinaldo.
In that time, he also made a bevy of draft picks, some of which have already shown to be wise in Brandon Carlo and Jake DeBrusk. Yet drafting (especially with the number of picks the Bruins had) wasn't really going to be the question with Sweeney. Success there was expected given his background in player development. The question was whether he could handle agents and opposing GMs with competence.
That's something that took some time, but he got team-friendly deals for both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak after giving early overpays to guys like Beleskey and Adam McQuaid. Prowess in contract negotation had been shown, but trading for a star remained his last ability to prove.
Thanks to strong years from veterans and supplementary contributions from young players, the Bruins suddenly found themselves needing such a trade for an attempted Cup run. He pulled that off, too.
A first-round pick and a prospect like Ryan Lindgren (along with Ryan Spooner and a late pick) is a lot to give up, but perhaps Sweeney deduced that his team's chances of a championship run are actually better this season than they might be in the next couple, when the team probably won't be getting the performances currently being given by Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.
So he got the deal done for Rick Nash. Thumbs up there. He also wisely added depth on the back end in Nick Holden a year after a little defensive depth might have made the difference in the first round against Ottawa. The Tommy Wingels thing is fine. Same with Brian Gionta. Not a major concern either way, but kudos on valuing depth.
Bruins fans should lament the Lightning getting Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers, but Sweeney couldn't have assumed that was going to happen and he certainly shouldn't have tried to get that package for what it cost Tampa.
The Lightning sent a top roster player (25-year-old Vladislav Namestnikov, who has 20 goals this season), multiple high picks (a 2018 first-rounder and a conditional 2019 first), their 2016 first-round pick and their 2016 second-round pick to New York.
That is an absolute ton, and it's absolutely not a package the Bruins were in any position to replicate. They've got to draft and develop replacements for the stars currently leading them. Giving away all their picks and best prospects is the surest way back to having to overpay vets to fill holes better filled by youth.
So the Bruins spent where they could have -- and should have. It was wise and savvy dealing and decision-making from a group that has pivoted well from its early blunders.