Yesterday, the B’s officially signed center Tyler Seguin to a six-year, $34.5 million deal (that’s an average cap hit of $5.75 million) with the possibility of a lockout officially beginning within the next 72 hours. Add to that the signing of forward Brad Marchand to a four-year, $18 million extension just days earlier and the Bruins are shelling out the big bucks to keep the core of their team together. That’s not to mention there could also be a third signing by the club before the end of the week as the team also aims to lock up Milan Lucic to a long-term deal.
So with all this money being thrown around, one might begin to ask themselves "Why is all this happening at such an uncertain time in the NHL". In my opinion there are several reasons for implementing such a strategy:
1. The Bruins Gain A Sense Of Certainty In Locking Up Their Core Guys
Letting players go to free agency and test the market could have broken up a young core that is good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup for years to come and with goaltender Tim Thomas focused on sitting out the season /retiring anyway, the Bruins might as well guarantee a strong lineup in front of Tuuka Rask in case it turns out he can’t shoulder the load for a full season (although we might have to wait a whole year to see a full season anyway.) The team will also be better off knowing that they are in a tight squeeze in terms of whatever adjustments are made to the salary cap structure or legalities of contract terms rather than letting players receive offers from other teams as free agents (restricted or not).
2. They Won’t Have To Compete To Add Players As Much
The last time the NHL decided to lockout its players, the Bruins were conservative in terms of their spending habits in the hopes that other teams would foolishly overspend before the lockout and be handcuffed, while the Bruins would then benefit from the terms of the renewed CBA and be able to keep player costs even lower than their counterparts. What actually resulted was no major signings and a slower rebuilding process.
3. The Players Always Lose In A Lockout
This is by far the most justifiable reason for the Bruins spending habits as Friday’s deadline approaches. I distinctly remember a certain outspoken member of the NHLPA named Jeremy Roenick speaking out against his own union during the 2004-05 lockout, saying that the players were going to lose money no matter how things got split and that agreeing to a hard salary cap system in the early going would have saved the players money in the long run. J.R. was right! The player’s union decided to ban together and wait a little bit longer and as a result, ended up with not only a hard salary cap limiting their potential earnings, but also a 24% rollback on their salaries. What this means for the Bruins is that the contracts of Seguin and Marchand respectively will probably be worth considerably less moving forward than we have seen or heard in reports to this point.
Whether you agree with the terms of the offers or not, you have got to be excited to see ownership stay committed to the team if you’re a Bruins fan. These signings ensure that they will be a mainstay in the Eastern Conference playoff race for years to come.
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