|Bruins playing with fire with Reilly Smith, Torey Krug contracts||09.29.14 at 9:09 am ET|
The Bruins got two blossoming young players, one a power-play cog and the other a second-line right wing, to take one-year contracts worth $1.4 million apiece.
Yet when all is said and done — and admittedly, we don’t say this often around these parts — Monday’s signings may not end up in the ‘Advantage: Chiarelli’ column.
Both Smith and Krug had exactly no leverage. They were entry-level free agents (players who had reached the end of their entry level deals but hadn’t accrued enough NHL service time to qualify for restricted free agency), so they were only allowed to negotiate with one team. That team happened to only have $3.218 million in cap space, so the summer, as well as the first 11 days of training camp, served as a waiting game of sorts.
On Monday, the wait ended, and the players swallowed their pride and took what is essentially the hockey version of the franchise tag, but instead of getting big money, they got underpaid.
That’s great for the Bruins this season. They don’t have to trade Johnny Boychuk, which was the worst-case scenario all along, and they don’t have to trade Chris Kelly, who despite carrying a high cap hit ($3 million), makes the Bruins a better team in ways unquantifiable. They still have to trade someone to fill out their roster with their young forwards or Simon Gagne, but the savings required is now under $1 million.
With the one-year deals to Smith and Krug, however, the Bruins are asking for trouble going forward. They already have $49,897,857 against the salary cap committed to 10 players (Marc Savard not included) for the 2015-16 season, with some important players still unsigned past this season.
The big ones: Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg are both in the final year of their contracts before unrestricted free agency, while Smith and Krug can now be added to a restricted free agent class highlighted by Dougie Hamilton. Signing Hamilton to a multi-year deal that will eat up the early years of his prime is critical if they want to avoid the mistake the Canadiens made by giving P.K. Subban a bridge deal and then having to give him an eight-year, $72 million contract.
Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Adam McQuaid are also unrestricted free agents to be, while Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Niklas Svedberg are set to become restricted free agents at season’s end. Peter Chiarelli has said he is going to trade a defenseman; McQuaid ($1.566 million cap hit) or Bartkowski ($1.25 million) would be enough to solve the Bruins’ cap situation for now.
If the Bruins had more cap space, the safe play would have been to give both Krug and Smith two- or three-year deals with cap hits of $2.5 million or more. With good seasons – Krug had 40 points last season and Smith raced out to 18 goals in the first 52 games of the season before getting sick during the Olympic break and being ineffective down the stretch of the regular season — both players could command even more than that next summer, but unlike these negotiations, they’ll be able to both file for arbitration and talk to other teams.
This isn’t so dissimilar from what happened when the Bruins signed Jarome Iginla last summer. Knowing cap space was tight, they bet on the current season by giving Iginla a deal that would see most of its money count against the next season in the form of a cap penalty. They got a great season out of Iginla, but ultimately were unable to sign him and ended up in the sticky situation in which they currently find themselves.
The Bruins are again betting on this season. Time will tell if it pays off or results in a messy offseason next summer that sees them lose more players.
The Bruins announced Monday morning that they have signed defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith to one-year contracts worth $1.4 million apiece.
The B’s, who entered training camp with $3.218 million in cap space, ultimately did not have to trade anyone in order to create more room to sign Smith and Krug, who were entry level free agents unable to negotiate with other teams.
Though getting the players to take low dollars is a financial win for the Bruins this season, it also presents a major risk to the B’s going forward. Both Smith and Krug will be restricted free agents at the end of the season and will have arbitration rights.
It also adds Smith and Krug to Boston’s list of players it needs to sign going forward. Both Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg will be unrestricted free agents at season’s end, while Dougie Hamilton, Smith and Krug are among the B’s restricted free agents-to-be.
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|Torey Krug, Reilly Smith absent for start of Bruins training camp||09.18.14 at 1:09 pm ET|
Bruins training camp officially began Thursday without Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, and general manager Peter Chiarelli offered no update on their status.
The B’s only have $3.218 million in cap space to sign both players, and though neither Smith nor Krug can negotiate with other teams, neither player would be wise to take a contract until the Bruins shed salary cap space in order to offer them more.
Chiarelli said he plans to trade a defenseman. In theory, he could simply sign both players and exceed the salary cap limit as long as he gets the team under the cap by the start of the regular season. Teams can exceed the cap by up to 10 percent until then.
Asked whether he has considered signing the players first and then making a trade, Chiarelli didn’t give much of an answer. The obvious downside to that strategy is that it would be harder to get fair return in trade scenarios when trade partners know that a team is over the cap and has to trade players.
“There’s different ways to skin the cat, and that’s one of 15,” Chiarelli said. “Those are business decisions that I have to make.”
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|Bruins announce training camp roster||09.17.14 at 6:21 pm ET|
The Bruins announced their training camp roster Wednesday. It is as follows:
FORWARDS: Patrice Bergeron, Anthony Camara, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Craig Cunningham, Loui Eriksson, Alexander Fallstrom, Brian Ferlin, Rob Flick, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, Simon Gagne*, Seth Griffith, Cory Kane, Bracken Kearns*, Chris Kelly, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, David Krejci, Ville Leino*, Matt Lindblad, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Bobby Robins, Ben Sexton, Reilly Smith, Carl SÃ¶derberg, Ryan Spooner, Ethan Werek*
DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Breen, Chris Casto, Zdeno Chara, Tommy Cross, Steve Eminger*, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, Ben Youds*
GOALTENDERS: Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg
Players marked with an asterisk are players at tenting camp on a tryout basis. Smith and Krug are both on the roster, though neither player has a contract. Smith’s agent told the Boston Herald Tuesday that it’s expected that neither will sign and attend camp until the Bruins free up cap space.
|Brad Marchand knows what Reilly Smith and Torey Krug are experiencing||09.09.14 at 5:15 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – If anyone knows what it feels like to be Torey Krug or Reilly Smith right now, it’s Brad Marchand.
The fall after the B’s won the Cup in 2011, Marchand, a restricted free agent, remained unsigned up until two days before training camp began. The sides avoided a holdout by striking a two-year, $5 million deal.
With training camp opening next week, both Krug and Smith remain without contracts. Marchand can remember the feeling of being days out of training camp and trying to agree to a new deal.
“It’s tough,” he said Tuesday. “They want to be here and we’d love to have them here. I don’t know what’s happening with the negotiations, but it is a frustrating time for both sides.
“You want to be with the guys and skating and have all that stuff behind you, because at the end of the day you love the game and you don’t want to be missing out on this stuff. Hopefully it will get done soon, and I’m sure it will.”
In the cases Krug and Smith, the circumstances are different than Marchand’s was. For one, Krug and Smith are entry level free agents and therefore don’t have any leverage. The biggest thing at play here, however, is the fact that cap space is tight.
Boston has only $3.218 million to sign both players for the coming season. A trade is expected at some point, but until the B’s do anything, forcing both players to take less than they’re worth is the team’s only move.
Training camp holdouts happen in the NHL (Drew Doughty in 2011 among them) and both P.K. Subban and Ryan O’Reilly were restricted free agents who missed games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season before eventually signing with their teams.
For his own sake, Marchand doesn’t want to see Smith, the right wing on Boston’s second line, sit out into the season. He’d rather have Smith in camp so prepare for the season with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
“It would be good,” Marchand said of Smith’s situation resolving itself sooner rather than later. “It’s always good to have as much time in training camp to play with your line, but that’s not something I can control.”
And if Smith remains unsigned for a long time?
“Me and Bergy will just go out and have fun by ourselves, I guess.”
|David Warsofsky deserves chance somewhere in NHL||09.07.14 at 9:33 am ET|
Being NHL-ready and stuck in the AHL because of organizational depth is tough, but sometimes there’s a solution.
If it were another player, it would be logical to thank the organization for the chance and respectfully ask the team to explore trade options, but it’s more complicated than that with David Warsofsky.
The chances of him cracking Boston’s lineup as long as Torey Krug is around and healthy are remote, but the Marshfield native grew up a Bruins fan and has family here, so the idea of parting with the organization isn’t as appetizing.
“I’ve got a big family around here, and everybody loves coming to the games, so that’s obviously easy for them,” Warsofsky said this week as he attended each of the Bruins’ semi-formal practices at Ristuccia Arena. “At the end of the day, it is a business, so I think wherever hockey takes me, that’s where it is. Right now it’s Boston, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Warsofsky, who played at Cushing Academy before heading to Boston University for three years, has spent three seasons (parts of four) in Providence since being acquired from the Blues in 2010 for Vladimir Sobotka. In Providence, he’s played his game — that of an undersized puck-moving defenseman – and last season put up 32 points in 56 regular-season games and added nine more in 12 postseason games.
He also held his own in six games last season for Boston, contributing offensively by scoring his first NHL goal in his fourth game on Dec. 28 against Ottawa and assisting on a Chris Kelly goal against the Senators on Feb. 8.
“Obviously to get a couple games in and get that confidence that you can play at that level is obviously good,” he said. “In my head I obviously thought I could play at that level, but the reassurance of coming up here and playing well definitely helped a lot too.”
This offseason, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he considers Warsofsky to be in the group of nine NHL defensemen he feels the Bruins possess. He’s probably right, but as long as Torey Krug is in town and healthy, none of us can be sure.
Both players possess similar size (Krug is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Warsofsky is listed as being the same height and 10 pounds lighter). They’re both strong skaters and power play assets. Warsofsky, at 24 years of age, is less than a year older than Krug.
With all the defensemen the Bruins have, there isn’t room for that redundancy. Krug has spent the majority of his Bruins career as the team’s No. 5/6 defenseman in addition to his power play responsibilities. Warsofsky isn’t going to leapfrog him.
“It is a tough situation with all the defensemen they have here, and obviously Torey and me play a similar type of game,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just focusing on myself right now, [which] is all I can really do; control what I can control and I’ll see what happens [in training camp].”
So again, a player in Warsofsky’s position might look for opportunities elsewhere, much like how the Bruins have looked at trade options to give Jordan Caron an opportunity to be in an NHL lineup every night. As a restricted free agent this summer, Warsofsky could have tried to leverage his way to another team, but instead happily signed a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the B’s.
“Obviously I wanted to come back to the Bruins,” he said. “This is my hometown and I want to play for the Bruins for a long time.”
Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Bruins need to make some sort of trade in order to free up space if they want to give Krug and Reilly Smith, both unsigned entry level free agents, respectable contracts. Trading Warsofsky wouldn’t solve any of the team’s cap woes, but including him in a trade would both yield a better return and finally give Warsofsky the opportunity he seems to deserve.
|Contract extension talks between David Krejci, Bruins expected to pick up soon||08.27.14 at 10:51 am ET|
Though two key free agents remain unsigned in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, the team has had talks to avoid a similar situation with one of their top players next summer.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Bruins have had “casual discussions” with David Krejci‘s camp about a contract extension for the first-line center. Krejci, 28, is entering the final year of a three-year, $15.75 million contract and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the coming season.
The source said there is an expectation that talks will accelerate in the near future. Historically, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has tried to get deals with his franchise players done before they enter their contract years. Chiarelli did it prior to the 2010-11 season, when he locked up free-agents-to-be Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, and last summer, when he signed Bergeron to an eight-year extension.
Krejci’s current contract was signed during his contract year, as Krejci was months away from restricted free agency when the B’s gave him the three-year pact in December of 2011.
The Czech center is coming off the second-most productive regular season of his career. His 69 points (19 goals, 50 assists) were the most he put up since posting 73 points in the 2008-09 season. Krejci enjoyed the successful regular season while centering Boston’s top line with longtime linemate Milan Lucic and the since-departed Jarome Iginla. With Iginla now in Colorado, Loui Eriksson is expected to serve as the Bruins’ first-line right wing.
Krejci fell short in the postseason, however, scoring no goals and contributing four assists in 12 playoff games. His quiet playoff performance was rather uncharacteristic of him, as he had led two of the previous three postseasons in points.
As for Smith and Krug, both players are entry level free agents, meaning they are at the end of their entry level contracts but have not accrued enough NHL service time to qualify for restricted free agency. As such, neither player can negotiate with other teams. Using figures from Capgeek.com, Bruins currently have 3.218 million in cap space, assuming Marc Savard will be placed on long-term injured reserve.