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Bruins sign David Backes to 5-year deal, John-Michael Liles to 1-year deal

07.01.16 at 12:19 pm ET
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David Backes will make $6 million a year with the Bruins. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Backes will make $6 million a year with the Bruins. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have signed former Blues center David Backes to a five-year deal carrying an average annual value of $6 million. News of the signing was first broken by the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa.

At 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, Backes has been a strong center throughout his career in St. Louis, but his age (32) and decline to this point makes a five-year deal at his price worrisome. It also raises the question of the Bruins’ intentions with Ryan Spooner, who served as the team’s third-line center last season. Should Backes be used as a center, it could make Spooner or David Krejci expendable.

While center was not a need for the Bruins, Backes’ signing still feels somewhat predictable. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney raised eyebrows early this offseason when he mentioned the possibility of exploring the center market, but the Bruins’ fascination with gritty players (and — are you noticing this? — Americans) seemed to paint Backes as their dream player. Backes was the first runner-up for the Selke Trophy when Patrice Bergeron won it in the 2011-12 season.

Last season, Backes scored 21 goals and added 24 assists for 45 points in 79 regular-season games for the Blues. He added seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 20 postseason games. The Minnesota native captained the Blues for the last five seasons.

The team also reportedly re-upped defenseman John-Michael Liles on a one-year, $2 million deal. The team acquired Liles from the Hurricanes at the trade deadline last season. The 35-year-old skated in 17 games for Boston.

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Report: Anton Khudobin returns to Bruins

07.01.16 at 12:06 pm ET
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According to Bob McKenzie, the Bruins signed free agent goaltender Anton Khudobin, who served as Tuukka Rask’s backup in the 2013 season, to a two-year contract.

Khudobin, who left the B’s for the Hurricanes after three seasons in the organization, spent last season between the Ducks and the San Diego Gulls of the AHL.

In his lone full season with Boston, Khudobin had a .920 save percentage in 14 games played.

By signing Khudobin, the Bruins have given themselves an option for which goalie to expose in next offseason’s expansion draft. The deal more or less protects the Bruins from losing Malcolm Subban.

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Loui Eriksson leaves Bruins for Canucks

07.01.16 at 12:03 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson has signed a six-year deal with the Canucks, according to Sportsnet.

The Bruins were unable to come to terms on a new deal with Eriksson, who scored 30 goals in the final season of a six-year deal that carried a $4.25 million cap hit. The main sticking point between the Bruins and Eriksson’s camp was the length of his next contract, as the Bruins were hesitant to go beyond four years unless the average annual value dipped. As of Thursday, eight teams were vying for Eriksson’s services.

The Swedish forward was the centerpiece of the package Dallas sent to Boston in 2013 for a package that included Tyler Seguin. While Seguin’s career trajectory quickly trended toward eventual Hall of Famer, Eriksson got off to a slow start in his first season with the B’s before suffering a pair of concessions. He bounced back with 22 goals in 2014-15 and 30 goals last season.

Eriksson played 224 regular-season games for the Bruins over three seasons, scoring 62 goals with 85 assists for 147 points. Last season, Eriksson was one of only seven players in the NHL with both 30 goals scored a Corsi Relative of 9.0 or higher.

Torey Krug’s cap hit is high, but likely not an overpayment

06.30.16 at 7:26 pm ET
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Torey Krug just got paaaaaid, but not too much.  (Harry How/Getty Images)

Torey Krug just got paaaaaid, but not too much. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Four more years of Torey Krug for $5.25 million per. If that sounds like a lot of money, it’s because it is. It’s $21 million. That is so much money.

But don’t mistake “so much” as “too much.” Looking at what NHL defensemen make, Krug’s offensive contributions make him properly compensated. Scott McLaughlin already pointed out why his downtick in goals last season shouldn’t be too worrisome, but here’s a look at Krug compared to the other guys making his kind of dough.

Twenty-one defensemen either made in the $5 million-$5.5 million range last season or are set to do so next season. Of those 21, Krug ranked 14th in average time on ice with 21:37 per night. However, Krug’s 40 assists were tops among that group, while his points were second in that group only to Ekman-Larsson. His points on the season overall tied for 19th among NHL defensemen.

As usage goes, Krug had relatively easy zone starts. That suggests the Bruins, as they’ve done throughout Krug’s career, tried to give him shifts in which he would spent as little time defending as possible. As can be seen by his Corsi For percentage in such situations, he drives possession when doing so.

That shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Krug is determined to be a stout defender, but the Bruins are paying him for his skating, passing and scoring. If they put better defensemen in front of him, he would be as much a 5-on-5 weapon as he is a power play weapon. Whether the Bruins can do that remains to be seen.

Here’s a usage chart of Krug and those other defensemen in 5-on-5 situations from last season, courtesy of Corsica Hockey.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.50.39 PM

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Bruins didn’t have a trade for Dennis Seidenberg; Don Sweeney saw buyout as last resort

06.30.16 at 6:10 pm ET
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Dennis Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins aren’t happy about buying out Dennis Seidenberg. If they had their druthers, they’d have traded him, even if for nothing.

Yet other options existed other than buying out the player and harming their cap for the next four seasons. They could have eaten half his contract in a trade (assuming a team would even take him at $2 million for the next two seasons rather than a $4 million average annual value) or they could have pulled a Chicago-Carolina and literally paid a team in the form of other capital (a prospect, a draft pick) to take Seidenberg’s deal off their hands.

“I would have considered all options from that standpoint,” Don Sweeney said on a conference call Thursday. “I mean, they’re all at our disposal. If it had come to any of those situations, we probably would have been able to approach Dennis with his contract situation and no-trade and explored those things. This was the opportunity. We pushed it right down to the last minute and this was the decision we made, albeit a very difficult one.”

Seidenberg had a full no-trade clause until December, so he would have had to approve any sort of trade the Bruins opted to make. A source familiar with the situation confirmed Sweeney’s intimation that the Bruins never came to Seidenberg about signing off on a trade this summer. That suggests the list of takers for Seidenberg was either non-existent or that the Bruins were either unwilling or unable to do what Chicago did with Bryan Bickell’s contract. To that end, the Bruins would have been silly to give away a major asset solely for the sake of freeing themselves of Seidenberg’s deal, so while they in theory could have dumped the deal off at any price, they didn’t deem that to be the play.

Still, when asked if the buyout was a last resort, Sweeney agreed it was.

“Yeah,” he said. “If we could have done it in a different fashion, we probably — we would have done it.”

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Why you shouldn’t get hung up on Torey Krug scoring just 4 goals last season

06.30.16 at 4:07 pm ET
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Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Some of those who want to criticize the Bruins’ four-year, $21 million deal for Torey Krug have already started pointing to the fact that he is an offensive defenseman who scored just four goals last season.

Krug did in fact score just four goals, but it is not something anyone should be worried about going forward. First off, Krug still had a career high in points last year with 44.

But more relevant to the goal discussion, Krug also had a career high in shot attempts (469) and shots on goal (244). He had the fourth-most shots on goal among all NHL defensemen, behind only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Dustin Byfuglien.

Krug shot 1.6 percent last season. He previously shot 7.7 percent in 2013-14 and 5.9 percent in 2014-15. Of the top 30 defensemen in shots on goal last season, Krug was the only one who shot worse than 3 percent, never mind 2 percent. Most of those other 29 guys shot in the 5-8 percent range, the same place Krug was before last season.

Basically what we’re getting at is that Krug is going to score much more if he continues to shoot as much as he’s been shooting. Chances are he will never have a shooting percentage as low as 1.6 percent again. If he even shot 5 percent last season, he would’ve scored 12 goals. If he shot the 6.7 percent he averaged the previous two seasons, he would’ve scored 16.

Anyone who has watched Krug play knows he has a pretty good shot. He didn’t suddenly forget how to shoot last season. Sure, there are things he can do to make sure he does a better job finishing, but for the most part that 1.6 percent is just the product of rotten luck.

So, complain about Krug’s contract if you want. Criticize his defense, say he’s undersized, say he’s not a legitimate top-four defenseman. We can have legitimate debates about all that. Just don’t get worked up over him scoring four goals last season, because he’s going to score more than that — probably a lot more — going forward.

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Bruins sign Torey Krug to 4-year, $21 million extension with limited no-trade

06.30.16 at 2:54 pm ET
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Torey Krug

Torey Krug

Shortly after beginning the buyout process of Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins announced a four-year contract for defenseman Torey Krug carrying a $5.25 million average annual value. The contract buys out two years of unrestricted free agency for Krug (2018-19 and 2019-20); the player will have a limited no-trade clause in each of those seasons.

Krug, 25, is coming off his fourth NHL season and third contract. His new deal carries a considerable raise from the $3.4 million he made on a one-year deal last season, but the raise comes on merit given that his 44 points last season (four goals, 40 assists) were a career high. Furthermore, his 21:36 of ice time ranked second among Bruins defensemen last season.

With Krug signed and Seidenberg bought out, the Bruins have about $54,631,000 committed against the cap for next season. Under a $73 million salary cap, that would give them $18.369 million in cap space to spend on seven or eight players, assuming Malcolm Subban makes the team as Tuukka Rask’s backup.

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