Bruins

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

The Boston Bruins didn't upgrade their lineup in a profound way Monday by trading right winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for left winger Nick Ritchie, but the salary cap savings for the B's could be quite valuable.

Heinen is a better offensive player than Ritchie, even though he's been disappointing for Boston with 22 points in 58 games this season. Ritchie is a bottom-six player, but he will give the Bruins more size and toughness for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the most important aspect of this trade is how it gives the Bruins more financial flexibility. 

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Heinen is signed through the 2020-21 season with a salary cap hit of $2.8 million, per CapFriendly. Ritchie also is under contract through next season with a team-friendly $1,498,925 cap hit. So, the Bruins save about $1.3 million in salary cap space with this trade.

Why does the savings matter?

It gives Bruins general manager Don Sweeney additional room under the salary cap this summer to re-sign some of their free agents.

The Bruins are expected to have just under $24 million in cap space this offseason after the Ritchie trade. This is a pretty good amount of room under the cap, and it should be enough to address several of the team's most important free agents.

Here's a look at the top five Bruins players eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency on July 1.

1. Torey Krug, D, UFA
2. Zdeno Chara, D, UFA
3. Jake DeBrusk, LW, RFA
4. Jaroslav Halak, G, UFA
5. Matt Grzelcyk, D, RFA 

The most important free agent the Bruins have to consider re-signing is Krug. The 28-year-old veteran is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, and he's also one of the team's leaders and a fan favorite. Krug is tied for ninth in scoring among defensemen with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 55 games. His power play ability is also among the league's best. Krug has tallied 25 of his points with the man advantage, and the Bruins have had a top-four power play in the league over the past three seasons with him running the No. 1 unit.

It's possible that Krug's annual average salary in his next contract could hit $8 million or more, especially if he hits the open market. Krug and St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo are the top defensemen who could be unrestricted free agents this summer. However, Krug said in September that taking less money to remain in Boston is "something I'm interested in."

This Ritchie trade is unlikely to impact the Bruins in a significant manner on the ice for the rest of this season, but opening up more than $1 million in salary cap space definitely will help in the offseason. Every little bit of cap space helps, especially when you're a team like the Bruins constructing a roster to win the Stanley Cup in the short term.

Bruins' Brad Marchand voted best AND worst trash-talker in NHL players' poll

Bruins' Brad Marchand voted best AND worst trash-talker in NHL players' poll

Anytime you speak with Brad Marchand about trash-talking around the NHL these days, it’s a lament that nobody talks out on the ice anymore.

Some of that is probably due to players wearing on-ice microphones more often these days for NHL or team productions, and some of it is because referees tend to shut down verbal warfare pretty quickly as well. 

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Marchand continues to try his best to keep NHL trash-talking alive, however, and that’s reflected in his selection as the NHL’s top trash-talker in the annual poll released by the NHL Players Association.

Here's what No. 63 said in a Players Tribune article he wrote in 2018 that still stands as pretty relevant now when it comes to Marchand and his on-ice chirping:

I have done things that have stepped over that line, and I've paid the price for it. But you know what? There's a lot of people out there in the hockey world who love to say, 'Winning is everything. It's the only thing.' But do they really mean it? How far are they willing to go? Maybe it was my size, or just the way I was born, but I've always felt like you have to be willing to do anything -- literally anything -- in order to win. Even if that means being hated. Even if it means carrying around some baggage. If I played the game any other way, you absolutely would not know my name. You wouldn't care enough to hate me, because I wouldn't be in the NHL.

Oddly Marchand was also voted the NHL’s worst trash-talker as well, which is probably based on the nearly 600 NHL players that voted totally missing the point of the poll question.

Marchand finished with 25.87 percent of the vote while Drew Doughty (13.37 percent), Ryan Reaves (11.05 percent) and Patrick Maroon (3.78 percent) lagged behind him in the poll of all NHL players while Marchand, Doughty, PK Subban and Nick Cousins ranked as the worst trash-talkers.

Clearly, Marchand has so many NHL players rattled so much they don’t know whether he’s the best or the worst. So in acknowledgment of such an accomplishment, here are some of the greatest hit chirps from the Nose Face Killah:

  • “I played against him in the 2013 [Stanley Cup] Final and he was talking a lot, says anything to get you off your game. [He] even told me my kids were ugly once upon a time. I know he’s lying because my daughters are beautiful, but it had me thinking for a while. I only had one kid at the time, I was like ‘does he know something I don’t?’ –NBC analyst and former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on his run-ins with Marchand.

 

 

 

 

  • Brad Marchand and PK Subban dropped the gloves in the 2012-13 NHL regular season and had a pretty good rivalry going in Subban's days with the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s a snippet from back then: "Subban was asking me to fight. Three or four guys asked to fight him, and he's running scared. But he comes after the smallest guy on the team. It just shows you what kind of character they have there."

 

 

Bruins legend Bobby Orr's great feat from April 3, 1971 still hasn't been matched

Bruins legend Bobby Orr's great feat from April 3, 1971 still hasn't been matched

Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr hit a milestone on this date in 1971 that no defenseman in the NHL has been able to match.

Orr tallied his 100th assist of the 1970-71 season in an 8-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 3. It was the second-to-last game of the season, and Orr finished the year with 102 assists to lead the league. 

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Check out the graphic below for more information on Orr's record-breaking achievement.

Orr's offensive stats in 1970-71 set a few records.

Not only are his 102 assists the most ever by a defenseman in a single season, his 139 points also are a single-season best for a blueliner. Edmonton Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey came close to breaking both records in the 1985-86 campaign, but he finished with 90 assists and 138 points. Like Orr and the Bruins in 1971, the 1986 Oilers suffered a disappointing defeat to a hated rival in the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, both the 1971 Bruins and 1986 Oilers bounced back from those defeats and won the Stanley Cup the following season.

The only other players in league history to reach 100 or more assists in one season are Hall of Fame centers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Gretzky accomplished the feat 11 times and Lemieux did it once. 

Orr's stats are incredible, and some of them might never be duplicated. This assist record easily could be one of them, especially when you consider the closest any defenseman has come to this Orr milestone in the last 20 years was Brent Burns with 83 assists in 2018-19.