|Lee Stempniak signs 2-year deal with Hurricanes, Zach Trotman signs with Kings, Brett Connolly to Capitals||07.01.16 at 2:28 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson wasn’t the only veteran right wing the Bruins lost in free agency on Friday, as Lee Stempniak departed on a two-year deal from the Hurricanes that will pay him an average of $2.5 million annually. Brett Connolly, whom the B’s could have kept as a restricted free agent but declined to tender a qualifying offer, signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.
Stempniak, who skated with the Bruins in their informal practices prior to training camp but chose to take a professional tryout with the Devils, scored 16 goals in 63 games for New Jersey before he was dealt to Boston for second and fourth-round picks. The Hurricanes will be Stempniak’s 10th NHL team.
The Bruins had interest in bringing back Stempniak, but ultimately spent the early hours of free agency signing fellow deadline acquisition John-Michael Liles as well as David Backes and, reportedly, goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Connolly’s departure officially ends a very disappointing stint in Boston for the Lightning’s 2010 sixth overall pick. Boston traded two second-round picks for Connolly at the 2015 trade deadline, but a broken finger limited him to five games with Boston that season and he followed it with a nine-goal 2015-16 season.
Also leaving the Bruins in unrestricted free agency was Zach Trotman, who took a one-year deal with the Kings. Matt Irwin, who played two games for the B’s last season before being banished to Providence, signed a two-year deal with Nashville.
|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.