Let's be honest, I am an optimist when it comes to the Bruins, always have been, always will be. Along with that, comes excitement about current times, but it also leads me to constantly look ahead. I just read a story on puck daddy about how after this season, Shea Weber may be on the move. Who knows what will happen with that over the next year.
Now I did a post like this like 2 months ago, and now things are completely different.
Looking ahead to next years squad, lets assume the same increase in salary cap from last year. Last year, the cap went from 56.4 million to 59.4 million, up 3 million dollars. So let's say that the cap goes from 59.4 to 62.4, not an unreasonable thought that it would grow at the same pace.
So after this season, we have 4 free agents, Blake Wheeler, Michael Ryder, Brad Marchand and Mark Stuart. We will have 9 forewards, 6 defenseman, and 2 goalies that are seeing regular time this season, and will still be under contract next year. All of the contracts we have on the books total 46.7 million commited, leaving us with a modest 15.7 million dollars to play with as of now. Now, if you subtract bonuses and incentives that will be taken off of our cap room next year, and that number shrinks to 12.83 million. Now I must say, that if you asked me at the beginning of the season, I didn't see a lot of scenarios where I was ok with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder coming back to this team, but I must say, for the right price, I would be ok with both of them coming back.
Michael Ryder was the guy that I was completely sure was on his way out of town. I couldn't stand watching him play during last years regular season. Then he had a pretty good post season, and I thought maybe. Ryder has had a somewhat quiet season, however without much notice, he is on pace for either 22 or 23 goals. He is a streaky scorer, so maybe he gets hot towards the end of the year, and puts in 25 this season. Players with similar numbers seem to be hovering in the 2 million dollar range. If I am the Bruins, I would definately bring Ryder back for that price tag. He is a guy that will be playing somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd lines, and would be able to produce some goal scoring. I think he is a great fit for that price tag.
Then, we come to the issue of Blake Wheeler. He is on pace for 16 goals, and 35 points. Let's face facts, Wheeler is 4th line guy, maybe 3rd if someone is hurt. He should make roughly 1-1.5 million in his next contract. Problem is, I don't think Wheeler realizes that he is pretty bad at this whole "hockey" thing. He is probably on his way out the door.
I look for Marchand to get about 1.5 million over 2 years or so. Take that in a second.
Then comes the situation at the blue line. It has been the achillies heel of this team all year. They are a great shut down defense, probably the best in the league. However, they are obnoxiously incompitent at breaking out of their zone. They NEED a puck moving defenseman. This is where we could see one of our defesemen moving, probably one of the more physical ones. Steven Kampfer has been a huge, pleasant surprise (thats what she said), as he has shown some true puck moving potential. He looks like he has the same mindset as Matt Hunwick, except he can actually perform. So he is off limits. Seidenberg is the unsung hero of this team, and he is very affordable for the next 4 years. He is going nowhere. Ference is probably not going anywhere. So it comes down to Boychuk, Mcquaid or Stuart. One of those 3 are probably on their way out, to make room for a quality puck moving defenseman. All 3 of these guys are great, physical defenseman, however, their styles are too similar, and there is a logjam of physicality on the blue line. One of the will go for a puck moving d-man. I would venture to say it's probably not Boychuk, more likely Mcquaid as a trade, or Stuart this year at the deadline.
Saying all of that, here we go... (note: number after the name is how many years player is signed for after this one)
Lucic (2) - Krejci (1) - Horton (2)
Ryder (?) - Bergeron (3) - Seguin (2)
Caron (2) - Savard (6) - Marchand (?)
Thornton (1) - Campbell (1) - Paille (1)
Chara (7) - Kampfer (2)
Seidenberg (3) - New guy (?)
Boychuk (1) - Ference (2)
So I guess we'll just talk about the elephant in the room, and that is the status of Marc Savard. Thing is, if Savard is playing, we are spending 4 million on a third line center. However, if Savard is not available, that frees up a spot, and cap room, when the organization has depth at center. I am writing Savard in, because obviously, this team is better with him in the lineup, and I would much rather have him playing.
Now, assuming Marchand nets 1.5, and Ryder nets 2.5, that leaves us with about 10 million in cap room to pay for a new puck moving defenseman. Obviously, that isn't all going to be spent on a shiny new defenseman, but it leaves the Bruins room to move for one. They have 3 players looking for pay raises after next season, so they will probably only be able to spend like 3-4 million on a new guy, but that could get us a guy like an Ian White or a Christian Ehrhoff. Now I am not saying that the Bruins will sign one of those two for sure, but they will have cap room to make a run at a guy of that skill level.
So long story short, if I am Peter Chiarelli, I would tell Blake to take a hike, sign Ryder for cheap, leave the rest of the forewards alone, and use our new found cap relief for a good young puck moving defenseman, even if it comes at the cost of one of our good young physical guys.