|Taking a look at the Bruins’ roster after a busy start to offseason||07.02.15 at 12:15 pm ET|
If you’ve forgotten what exactly the Bruins’ roster looks like after all these moves, it’s understandable.
In a nutshell, the Bruins have moved things around offensively while taking a step back defensively this offseason. The team has multiple candidates to take jobs on both offense and defense, though the team’s top-nine looks more or less set at this point.
Including goaltender Jeremy Smith ($600,000 on a two-way deal), the Bruins have approximately $63,085,667 against the cap committed to 18 players for next season.
Here’s our attempt at a forward/defense depth chart after Don Sweeney’s flurry of moves. (Read it vertically rather than horizontally, as these are not projected lines.)
|Offer sheet an unlikely tactic for Bruins||06.30.15 at 9:24 pm ET|
Well, some will. The Bruins probably won’t.
In order to sign a player to an offer sheet, a team must have the proper draft picks to surrender should the rights-holding team opt not to match. The picks must be that team’s natural picks and not selections acquired from other clubs.
So, while the Bruins have a pair of first-rounders next year (their own and the Sharks’) as well as the Islanders’ second-rounder, they do not have their own second-round pick. That selection was sent to Tampa in the Brett Connolly trade.
That means they would not be able to sign a player to a contract with an RFA compensation number in the following ranges:
– $1,826,3280-$3,652,659 (second round pick)
– $5,478,986-$7,305,316 (first, second and third-round picks)
– $7,305,316-$9,131,645 (two firsts, one second and one third-round pick)
Just a reminder: RFA compensation is not calculated like cap hits (total money before before 40 divided by years of contract before 40, not that the 40 thing is relevant to an RFA anyway), but rather by total money divided by years or five, whichever is smaller.
As such, the team could in theory offer a player a seven-year deal worth $6.63 million a year, which would bring that number to $9.28 million. In that case, the Bruins wouldn’t need to give up a second-rounder, but rather four first-round picks. Given the murky waters the Bruins appear set to navigate, gambling future first-round picks would not be a wise move.
In Tuesday’s pre-free-agency conference call, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was asked about the possibility of offer-sheeting a player.
‘Well, I think every club has that club in their bag, so to speak,’ Sweeney said. ‘If you’ve got the space to be able to do it, and certainly teams that are pushed up against it, you feel that pressure. So yeah, there’s not a general manager, I don’t think, that wouldn’t look at every opportunity to improve their club. An offer sheet is definitely a possibility from every angle, for every team.’
Unless the Bruins are planning on spending a whole lot (or very little), don’t expect them to use the tactic unless they can first re-acquire that pick from Tampa. Furthermore, it isn’t like the Bruins have a whole lot of money to spend. Including the estimated $969,000 in overages from last season and the $2.75 million retained in the Milan Lucic trade, the Bruins have $61,160,667 committed to 16 players for the 2015-16 season, not counting Marc Savard. The salary cap’s upper limit is $71.4 million.
The trade market remains Sweeney’s best shot at improving the team.
Don Sweeney is adamant that the Bruins are not going through a rebuild.
To some degree, his actions reflect that he doesn’t think the Bruins will bottom out. For example, no team planning on rebuilding would send a third-round pick in two years away in exchange for bottom-of-the-roster player, as the B’s did this week by acquiring Zac Rinaldo for a 2017 third-round pick.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sweeney’s stance on his team’s direction remained unchanged from the weekend.
“I don’t think it’s a rebuild,” Sweeney said. “We didn’t strip this down.”
The Bruins have made a number of moves of late, which have left fans believing the Bruins are indeed undergoing an overhaul. The trades of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic have made the current roster considerably worse, while the re-signing of Adam McQuaid and the trade for Rinaldo have been met with confusion.
The Bruins still have a core of Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron in place, which could still allow them to contend for the playoffs. Further moves figure to better indicate the team’s direction.
Sweeney insisted that one piece of the team’s core will remain in Boston. Tuukka Rask was rumored to be discussed at some length, however small, during the draft in Florida over the weekend, but Sweeney rejected the notion that he would trade his goaltender.
“Tuukka Rask not on the market,” Sweeney said. “I’m not sure where those necessarily come from. I can deliver emphatically that did not happen.”
Rask has six years remaining on an eight-year deal with an annual cap hit of $7 million.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney shared in Tuesday’s pre-free agency conference call with reporters that the Bruins sent qualifying offers to restricted free agents Ryan Spooner, Brett Connolly and Martin Jones. The team declined to qualify Matt Lindblad, Rob Flick and Adam Morrison.
Sweeney said that the door has not been closed on Lindblad, Flick or Morrison potentially returning to the B’s.
He also noted that the Bruins are facing nearly a million dollars in cap overages from last season.
Sweeney said that bonuses to Dougie Hamilton and a couple of other players from last season leave the Bruins facing approximately $969,000 in overages that will go against this season’s salary cap.
As such, the Bruins will have nearly $3.7 million in dead money against the cap in the coming season. The Bruins dealt with a similar issue last season, when they had nearly $5 million in cap overages, due largely to the bonus-laden contract given to Jarome Iginla a season earlier.
With Sweeney’s estimate and the newly acquired Zac Rinaldo factored into our running count of Boston’s cap space, the B’s now have $61,160,667 committed to 16 players (not counting Marc Savard). Many young players on two-way contracts could also push for spots, such as Joe Morrow, Brian Ferlin and Colin Miller. Sweeney said that the Bruins remain in talks with teams about trading Savard, whose $4.017 is put on long-term injured reserve each season but could help a team trying to get to the cap floor. The Flyers made a similar move over the weekend by trading Chris Pronger‘s contract to Arizona.
The salary cap’s upper limit for next season is $71.4 million. Free agency begins Wednesday, but even by trading Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins will not be in a position to be a major spender unless they trade more players.
That might not be such a bad predicament, as this summer’s free agency class is extremely thin. The forward group is led by 27-year-old left wing Matt Beleskey, who had the first 20-goal season of his career last season with the Ducks and figures to command big money.
Andrej Sekera headlines the group of potentially available defensemen, though the Kings could still re-up him before free agency opens.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘I do think [the Bruins] have a plan’||06.29.15 at 12:26 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the Bruins’ rebuilding strategy and the direction they will go after surprise moves prior to the NHL draft last week. To hear the full interview, visit the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
“I can’t see that happening,” McGuire said. “They’re a proud franchise. I can’t see that alienation of their fan base. They’ve been down this road before back in the [mid-1990s]. It was painful. … They’ve still got a very solid infrastructure of players. But again, they’re going to have to pass the torch here because some of their better guys are getting older.
“I can’t see them trading Patrice Bergeron. You put his name out there and every team in the league’s going to want him. … This is my one word of caution on this: I would be really careful pre-judging this thing if I were a Bruins fan, because I do think they have a plan. Doesn’t mean they have to share it with everybody only because you don’t want to show your cards too often in this league. In this league, they throw you anchors, not life jackets.”
According to McGuire, the recent moves made by the Bruins are part of a trend that began last offseason with the departure of Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla, among others.
“[My reaction was] that Don Sweeney wanted to put his stamp on the team early on along with Cam Neely that this was clearly something that was approved by ownership, that they felt that maybe something had gone a little bit astray in their building plan and they wanted to try to get it straightened out as soon as possible,” McGuire said. “I remember being in Boston last year when Johnny Boychuk got traded away … and I remember the reaction of the players and it was really negative. They were not happy at all.
“Shawn Thornton moves on to Florida, Jarome Iginla moves on to Colorado, Johnny Boychuk moves on to the New York Islanders and then you see what happens this year — Chiarelli gets fired, Gregory Campbell‘s not coming back, Danny Paille’s not coming back, Milan Lucic isn’t coming back and obviously Dougie Hamilton’s not coming back. Start doing the math. That’s a huge part of your infrastructure, so clearly they knew that they wanted to go in a younger, different direction and they’ve started that process.”
|Don Sweeney has lists from all Bruins with partial no-trade clauses; Loui Eriksson lost full-no trade when B’s missed playoffs||06.25.15 at 3:20 pm ET|
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Bruins general manager Don Sweeney doesn’t feel the need to make trades this weekend, but he’s more than prepared to.
Sweeney revealed during Thursday’s pre-draft availability that he has collected the proper lists from each Bruins player with a partial no-trade clause. Such lists, which vary in number of teams, reveal teams to which a player would accept a trade.
“Absolutely. I have every list,” Sweeney said.
Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg are Boston’s players with no-trade clauses, with Lucic, Marchand, Kelly and Eriksson having lists. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask have no-movement clauses for the foreseeable future, with Krejci’s and Rask’s statuses changing to no-trades over time.
Eriksson waived his no-trade clause to come to the Bruins from Dallas two years ago, but his no-trade was preserved in writing at the time, which means he still has his no-trade rights.
According to sources, Eriksson had a full no-trade, but when the Bruins missed the playoffs last season, it reverted to a 14-team list. Lucic has a 15-team list, while Kelly can approve a trade to up to eight teams. Seidenberg has a full no-trade until Dec. 30, 2016, after which it will become an eight-team list. Seidenberg has said that he would waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal if Boston tried moving him.
The size of Marchand’s list is currently unknown. Because he is 27, he will become qualified for no-trade rights on July 1, if that is indeed when they kick in. Players cannot have no-trade rights unless they are old enough (or have enough NHL service) to qualify for unrestricted free agency status. Marchand still has two more years on a cap friendly deal ($4.5 million cap hit), so the idea of him being traded would figure to be a moot point. Of the aforementioned group of players, he is the biggest no-brainer to keep.
At some point this offseason, the Bruins will turn to the trade market in an effort to clear salary cap space. The Bruins have $59,841,667 committed to 15 players for next season, with the upper limit of the salary cap set at $71.4 million this week. Boston still needs to sign restricted free agents Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly to new contracts. Don Sweeney has also expressed an interesting in re-signing unrestricted free agent Adam McQuaid.
Sweeney said that he does not necessarily feel a need to swing his deals before the draft begins Friday.
“I think every situation is different,” Sweeney said. “You could look at getting past the draft and getting past free agency as teams say, ‘OK, well I missed that first wave; there will be another wave of player movement opportunity.’ I think just everybody is looking to explore whatever they can at this particular time because the opportunity presents itself on a bunch of different levels.”
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and agent J.P. Barry met Wednesday night in Florida as the sides continue to discuss Dougie Hamilton’s next contract.
The sides are not close to a deal, as the meeting focused on where Hamilton stands at this point in his career and the term of a potential contract. Sweeney declined to reveal his preference for term when asked at Thursday’s pre-draft availability.
Sweeney described the status of negotiations as “further discussions” and said the sides are keeping “real, real good communication” in an effort to strike a deal.
Asked whether signing Hamilton before July 1 (the start of restricted free agency for Hamilton) is his priority, Sweeney replied, “In a perfect world, it would be.”
“You’ve got to have two sides to make a deal,” Sweeney added. “We’re just going to continue to explore that and communicate as best we can to continue to find the right deal.”
Sweeney said that if a team is to present Hamilton with an offer sheet in July, the B’s would “have to be aware and prepared for it.” It is expected that the Bruins would match any deal, though they would like to sign Hamilton on their own terms.
“We’re going to do whatever we have to do in order to protect the player,” Sweeney said when asked about potential financial maneuvers to ensure that the Bruins don’t lose Hamilton.
Given the salary cap in the NHL, the ideal scenario for the Bruins would be to sign Hamilton, a rising star, to a lengthy contract to buy out years of unrestricted free agency. That way, the Bruins would get more of Hamilton’s prime years for less money. Hamilton is four seasons away from having the service time accrued to be an unrestricted free agent. The max length for a team signing their own player to a contract is eight years.
Where that gets tough for the Bruins is that they don’t have the cap space to sign a player for a high average annual value, which is what such a contract would require. A shorter contract would command less per year, but the Bruins would either have to pay more at the end of it or risk losing their player on the open market down the road.
Both Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly are also days away from restricted free agency. The Bruins have already begun talks with the representatives for both players. Sweeney reiterated that he hopes to re-sign Adam McQuaid.
Sweeney and Barry are expected to meet again before the end of draft weekend.