|Gary Bettman: Hard to prove whether a team exploits playoff cap loophole||02.24.15 at 10:45 pm ET|
In an interview that will air on this week’s episode of Sunday Skate, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shed some light on the possibility of teams sitting players for the rest of the regular season in order to go over the salary cap come playoff time.
This situation applies to the Bruins and how they could handle things with David Krejci, who they recently announced will miss four-to-six weeks with a partially torn MCL. Because there is no salary cap in the playoffs, the Bruins could, in theory, sit Krejci for the rest of the regular season, put him on long-term injured reserve and exceed the salary cap by his $5.25 million cap hit (as well as Kevan Miller’s $800,000 hit).
Such action, whether done by the Bruins or another team, could mean teams sitting healthy players for longer than they are injured and using LTI space by dishonest means. Asked whether the league would take issue with such maneuvers, Bettman said that while the NHL “frowns upon the use of loopholes,” the league would have a tough time proving teams were doing it.
“You can only ice a certain number of skaters,” Bettman said, “and the fact of the matter is, who’s to say how severely the injury will impact his play longer term, what kind of shape he’s been in? These are all speculative kinds of questions, and I’m not trying to duck them. It’s just simply, let’s wait to see what happens before we try to draw any conclusions.”
Added Bettman: “We frown upon the use of loopholes, but I don’t think an injury was sustained in order to create a loophole,” he said. “The rules are the rules. They’re competitive. The collective bargaining agreement tends to be fairly clear and we try to enforce it pretty consistently across the board.”
For the rest of the interview, tune in to this week’s episode of Sunday Skate at 8 a.m.
As you may know by now, David Krejci’s injury could give the Bruins a chance to exploit the NHL‘s salary cap system and ice a much more expensive roster come playoff time than it could in the regular season.
Because there is no salary cap in the playoffs, the Bruins could put Krejci on long-term injured reserve for the rest of the season, exceed the cap by as much as his $5.25 million cap hit (Kevan Miller’s $800,000 hit as well) and then ice a roster come playoff time that consists of every healthy guy they have.
There are a couple of problems with that. First, there’s the fact that expensive players would also probably cost the team good trade assets, which may not be the smartest thing for the Bruins given that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong this season.
Then there’s the idea of sitting a player for up to a month longer than necessary. Guess who isn’t on board with that?
“That question is for the management, but no, I don’t want to sit out,” Krejci said Tuesday. “I want to play, obviously. If there’s only a little chance I can play, I would like to play.
“The management has to do whatever they feel is right for the team to get our team into the playoffs. It’s not an easy decision for them, but [Peter Chiarelli] has been making good decisions since I’ve been here and I’m pretty sure he’s going to make the right one again.”
Krejci’s expected to be out four-to-six weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee. Depending on his recovery, he could be ready to play with between three and six games remaining in the regular season. Considering how important he is to the Bruins’ operation (especially in the playoffs), Krejci’s postseason performance would probably benefit for some games before the playoffs begin.
“I know they said four-to-six weeks, but I’m going treat my knee every day,” Krejci said. “I’m going to do the best I can to be back as fast as I can.”
Peter Chiarelli likes to sign his pending unrestricted free agents before they go into their walk years. It’s a tactic that saved the Bruins a lot of money when he re-upped both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron before they helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2010-11.
Yet with the news of David Krejci‘s partially torn MCL that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks, the Bruins are learning for the second straight year that waiting a bit to sign a player has its benefits too.
The Bruins gave Dennis Seidenberg, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after last season, a four-year, $16 million at the start of the 2013-14 season. At the time, the fourth year looked like it could potentially be a problem down the road, but given the reasonable $4 million cap hit for the trusty No. 2 defenseman, no one batted an eye.
Seidenberg tore his ACL in December of that season. He most likely would have still gotten even more money than he signed for had he hit free agency (here’s your daily reminder that Brooks Orpik, who is older than Seidenberg, got five years and $27.5 million, and he’s Brooks Orpik), but the fact that Seidenberg signed before the season showed his preference to stay with Boston. Had the Bruins waited to sign him, perhaps they would have gotten him on a better deal, or perhaps the Bruins would have chosen to try to sign Johnny Boychuk and let Seidenberg walk.
Now, Seidenberg’s deal is viewed as one of the worst contracts the Bruins have. His play has dropped significantly and he looks like he would be more at home on a third pairing. The Bruins could probably move him if they wanted to, but his contract – the very one that looked good at the time of its signing — could hurt his trade value.
It’s hard to imagine the Bruins experiencing the same thing with Krejci, but it’s fair to say his price tag would have been lower after the most injury-plagued season of his career. Krejci, who signed a pretty team-friendly six-year, $43.5 million contract before the start of the season, had already missed 20 games due to lower-body injuries this season prior to getting hurt again in Friday’s loss to the Blues.
No matter what happened with Krejci this season, he would have been the best free-agent center if he made it to free agency this summer. His only competition already signed in Jason Spezza, so even with the injuries, Krejci would have easily gotten six years and $43.5 million this summer. In fact, he probably still would have gotten a lot more than that.
Next season, Milan Lucic will be the Bruins’ biggest-name free-agent-to-be. The Bruins need to think long and hard before determining whether he’d be worth whatever money he would command, but it is a no-brainer to opt against signing him before the season. Lucic has not lived up to his $6 million cap hit this season and the team shouldn’t carelessly throw him into the group of players they perceive to be their core.
If they go into the season with Lucic playing for a contract, they can use the opening months of the season to further evaluate the player while potentially getting the elevated performance that often comes when players are looking for a pay day. At the very least, they would avoid signing a player just before they get hurt.
|David Krejci out 4-6 weeks with partially torn MCL||02.23.15 at 6:27 pm ET|
David Krejci will miss 4-6 weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Monday. Krejci suffered the injury in Friday night’s loss to the Blues.
Krejci, who also missed time earlier this season, has 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 38 games, good for the second-best points per game pace on the team behind only Patrice Bergeron.
Depending on how long Krejci’s recovery takes, he could be ready to return to action with somewhere between three and six games left in the regular season. The Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Panthers, with both teams 59 games into their schedules.
Krejci’s injury would allow the Bruins to take on more salary should they decide to add players before next Monday’s trade deadline. Because there is no salary cap in the postseason, the Bruins could add players with the money saved by putting Krejci ($5.25 million cap hit) on long-term injured reserve, keep Krejci out the rest of the regular season and then be able to use all players once the postseason begins.
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|5 things we learned: David Krejci injured, Malcolm Subban pulled and Bruins could be toast||02.20.15 at 10:37 pm ET|
Both Malcolm Subban and David Krejci left Friday’s game in the second period. Subban’s night was disappointing. Krejci’s could end up being the final nail in the coffin for the 2014-15 Bruins.
Krejci left the ice and needed help down the tunnel after colliding with Alexander Steen at the blue line in the second period. He did not return to the game. His injury appeared to be of the lower-body variety.
The injury came amidst a three-goal stretch for St. Louis to open the period and chase Subban, who was making his NHL debut, from the game. Subban was brought back into the game in the final minutes of the third period with the Blues holding a 5-1 lead, which would stand as the game’s final score (box).
Should Krejci’s injury cost him significant time, this season is toast for the Bruins. If it costs him any time, Boston’s chances of piecing things together and holding down a playoff spot (they have just a one-point lead over the Panthers for the last Wild Card spot; Florida has a game in hand) still take a big hit.
In losing Friday’s game, the Bruins have lost the first four games of their current road trip. They have lost six straight games (0-2-4).
Here are four more things we learned Friday.
SUBBAN’S GLOVE DOESN’T CUT IT
Subban faced only three shots in the first period. He let the next three in.
Whether as a result of rookie jitters, the fact that he was a 21-year-old goalie playing in an NHL game or anything else, Subban struggled mightily with his glove. Petteri Lindbohm’s slapshot in the first minute of the second period went off Subban’s glove and in, while Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the left circle snuck under the netminder’s glove. T.J. Oshie beat Subban glove-side high from a tough angle less than a minute after Pietrangelo’s goal, giving the Blue three goals on three shots in 4:21.
Subban was not happy as he left the game, slamming his stick down as he reached the bench.
NO REST FOR RASK
Tuukka Rask didn’t look much happier as he got ready to take the ice following St. Louis’ third goal. Rask tossed a chair down the tunnel, looking more dejected than angry as he did so.
With Friday’s game, Rask has now played in 16 straight games and 25 of the Bruins’ last 26. He allowed a pair of goals, the first of which was on a St. Louis power play and the second of which came on a 2-on-1.
This is not good for the Bruins. It would be one thing if the Bruins had to ride Rask to victories while they worked things out solidified their postseason position. Yet by playing Rask and playing as poorly in front of him as they have, they’re both wearing down their No. 1 goalie and making the possibility of missing the playoffs very realistic.
FIRST PERIOD NOT ENOUGH
The Bruins played a strong first period, which despite their struggles this season shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise given that they’ve played well against the Blues in recent seasons.
Part of that was probably the fact that Subban was in net. When a team knows that it doesn’t have a sure thing like Rask behind them, it naturally tends to tighten up and limit chances. That was the case when they held St. Louis without a shot until 12:14 into the period. The B’s took a 1-0 lead into the intermission thanks to a Brad Marchand goal, but things unraveled quickly.
CHARA BACK TO POINT
The Bruins only got one power play in Wednesday’s loss and they scored on it. A new-look first unit played about a minute and a half and scored, so the second unit was not revealed.
That finally happened Friday, and the changes included Zdeno Chara moving back to the point after playing in front of the net since the beginning of last season. Chara and Reilly Smith manned the points on the second unit, with Milan Lucic, David Pastrnak and Carl Soderberg up front.
The first unit remained Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Patrice Bergeron, Krejci and Loui Eriksson.
|David Krejci admits Bruins power play ‘just sucks’ right now||02.10.15 at 11:07 pm ET|
Give David Krejci credit for this much: He’s not sugar-coating the Bruins’ power-play effort of late.
After not only failing to score Tuesday night, the Bruins allowed their first two shorthanded goals of the season at a horrible time, and fell to the Stars, 5-3, at TD Garden.
The first shorthanded marker by Dallas came directly as a result of a sloppy, lazy pass from Krejci that never got to Torey Krug along the Dallas blue line. It was picked off by Vernon Fiddler, who beat Niklas Svedberg up top for a 1-0 Dallas lead. After the Bruins battled back to tie the game, 3-3, it was another shorthanded goal that was Boston’s undoing, as Trevor Daley skated past a standing Krejci and beat Tuukka Rask. The Bruins entered the game as the only team in the NHL not to allow a goal while on the power play.
The Bruins, who scored a shorthanded goal of their own from Patrice Bergeron, did manage nine shots on the man advantage in four chances but no goals. What gives?
“Just sucks, that’s the only word I’ve got,” Krejci said. “We’ve been working on it in practices but it’s no good, so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Krejci had no disagreement with Claude Julien‘s assessment that the Bruins were plain sloppy on the power play at critical times.
“One hundred percent. I mean, it’s not just a goal against us, there’s more things to it,” Krejci said. “We’re just not playing well on the power play, we have to practice way more. Maybe we have to change something, but that’s up to the coaches. We just have to find a way to be better, and it has to start in practices.”
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|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins need ‘proven’ veteran who can score goals||02.05.15 at 1:50 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB after the Bruins’ loss to the Rangers Wednesday night, and to look ahead to their stretch of games before the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline approaching, McGuire feels the Bruins’ biggest need is a veteran presence on the first line who can score goals, and play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He feels the defense can be corrected on its own.
“I don’t know about the top four [defenseman], it’s a fair question,” McGuire said. “I think it is more pressure and get more consistent offense in the first line and insert with [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, and this isn’t a knock on whomever they have tried there — whether it’s [Loui] Eriksson or Reilly Smith, whenever it be anybody, David Pastrnak — it doesn’t matter. I think they really need a veteran presence, a proven guy that can score goals in a first line situation and then the rest of the batting order kind of stabilizes itself.
“I think they can do it by committee on defense really because of the way the team plays. I think they need to get more run support with consistency, I think that is one of the reasons why they play so many one goal games, they are in so many close games, they just don’t have consistent run support for their defense and their goalie.”
“The one thing that stands out to me and not even being 19 years of age or pretty darn close to it, he can still dominate the puck,” said McGuire. “He made some pretty creative plays last night. It’s a hard league for kids that weigh 165-170 pounds to play in. I don’t see him tailing off. I think this will be a lot like what we saw with Tyler Seguin in the Bruins run to the Cup in , just because it took awhile for Tyler to get comfortable and once he got comfortable you saw what he did in the Tampa Bay series in particular.