|Loui Eriksson vs. David Backes: Looking at where the Bruins did (and didn’t) spend their money||07.01.16 at 1:24 pm ET|
The Bruins opted against signing a soon-to-be 31-year-old Loui Eriksson to the six-year, $36 million contract he got with Vancouver and instead gave the same average annual value to 32-year-old David Backes.
So essentially, the Bruins decided they would rather $6 million a year to Backes at age 37 than Eriksson at 37. At face value given their styles of play, Eriksson would seem the better bet to be more productive at that age, though the Bruins shouldn’t be besmirched for opting against Eriksson’s deal. With the caveat that they’re likely not done making moves, the initial reaction here is that, if anything, they perhaps shouldn’t have done either contract.
There is no question that Eriksson is a better possession player and more of a scorer than Backes, but the Bruins, to a fault, value grit. Here’s a comparison of Backes and Eriksson, per Own the Puck:
|Milan Lucic signs with Oilers||07.01.16 at 1:10 pm ET|
Though other suitors made their pushes, Milan Lucic’s time as a free agent was predictably short-lived before he reunited with Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton. The former Bruins left winger, who turned 28 last month, received a seven-year, $42 million deal from the Oilers.
Lucic, who has had the likes of David Krejci and Anze Kopitar as his centers, will now play with generational talent Connor McDavid.
“It was him and Peter,” Lucic told WEEI.com after signing. “I wanted to be part of something special.”
The Oilers brought in Lucic for a free agent visit earlier this week, at which point it was reported that the sides had agreed in principle to a deal. Lucic denied that and continued to field offers from other teams before ultimately settling in Edmonton.
|Bruins sign David Backes to 5-year deal, John-Michael Liles to 1-year deal||07.01.16 at 12:19 pm ET|
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.
|Report: Anton Khudobin returns to Bruins||07.01.16 at 12:06 pm ET|
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.
|Loui Eriksson leaves Bruins for Canucks||07.01.16 at 12:03 pm ET|
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|
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.
|Bruins didn’t have a trade for Dennis Seidenberg; Don Sweeney saw buyout as last resort||06.30.16 at 6:10 pm ET|
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.”