So I've previously brought you a fun-filled opportunity to laugh at other teams and their cap situation, and deliberately left our own cap woes out of the equation. In light of folks showing up in game threads and elsewhere with clear demands on how to 'fix' this team, often without having down any consideration of the cap consequences (the mere mention of Bobby Ryan comes to mind) down the road, makes it abundantly clear that we need to have this discussion.
Expected Salary Cap: $64,300,000
This figure for next season is expected to be fixed, as this figure was agreed in the CBA negotiations to be the cap baseline after the lockout. It isn't going to be susceptible to the 50% of HRR, because you can't calculate that based on a lockout-shortened season, although it sounds as though this season may break records if extrapolated to a full 82 games. In following years, it will be calculated based on the HRR next year and beyond, and could conceivably skyrocket in later years of this CBA. That said, you can't rely on that, because the cap is absolutely going down next season, and such is the way of the world.
So, what does this mean for the Bruins?
Projected cap hit for 13-14: $57,413,095
Projected cap space for 13-14: $6,886,905
Roster players under contract for 13-14: 17 (this includes Ryan Spooner at this moment)
We'll take this apart by position (well, forwards, defense, and goaltenders anyway):
Most of our forward group is already locked in next year (and, by and large, beyond)
David Krejci: $5,250,000 through 2014-2015
Patrice Bergeron: $5,000,000 through 2013-2014
Milan Lucic: $6,000,000 through 2015-2016
Marc Savard (tears): $4,021,429 through 2016-2017
Tyler Seguin: $5,750,000 through 2018-2019
Rich Peverley: $3,250,000 through 2014-2015
Chris Kelly: $3,000,000 through 2015-2016
Brad Marchand: $4,500,000 through 2016-2017
Gregory Campbell: $1,600,000 through 2014-2015
Daniel Paille: $1,300,000 through 2014-2015
Shawn Thornton: $1,100,000 through 2013-2014
Ryan Spooner: $870,000 through 2014-2015
This means we have $41,641,429 committed to 12 forwards next season, but Savard, of course, is never playing again, and Spooner probably won't finish this season with the big club, so really, its $40,771,429 committed to 10 forwards with guaranteed roster spots (Spooner is not guaranteed a roster spot next season as we have 4 playable centres in Krejci, Bergeron, Kelly, and Campbell on contract at the moment, so unless he were to move to the wing...).
That leaves us with several gaping holes in the forward ranks, namely a RW to play with Krejci and Lucic, and of course, the eternally elusive #3 LW.
I will work on filling holes once I have dissected the status quo on D and G.
Zdeno Chara: $6,916,667 through 2017-2018
Johnny Boychuk: $3,366,667 through 2014-2015
Dennis Seidenberg: $3,250,000 through 2013-2014
Adam McQuaid: $1,566,667 through 2014-2015
Dougie Hamilton: $1,494,167 through 2014-2015
This means we have $16,594,168 committed to 5 defensemen next season, which all things considered isn't too bad, because unlike certain other teams (cough, Philly, cough, Vancouver, cough) we only have 1 defenseman being paid over $4 million (Z, and he is worth every penny and much more), and are currently riding a bargain deal on Seidenberg, as well as Dougie being on his ELC. As we go forward with this exercise, this will probably prove to be our saving grace.
That said, we are still short 1 full-time defenseman and a 7th D
We currently have no rostered goalies on NHL contracts. Thats not gonna help.
Filling the holes
Obviously resigning Tuukka is far and away our number one priority going into next season. Despite the objections of idiots, his play has been exemplary, and assuming Craig Anderson doesn't come back soon and destroy worlds with his play, should be the favorite for the Vezina this year. While all this is fantastic news for the Bruins on the ice, it will most certainly complicate matters on the contract front, as he will command big money and decent term. He will absolutely deserve it, but we need to be ready to do what needs to be done to keep him here. He is currently making $3.5 million on a one-year, prove yourself contract, and he has. Ideally, I would want him at $4.5 million/year on a 4-5 year contract. This may be a little low, but it is also the absolute lowest I can see him agreeing to, both in terms of money and term. I state this on term because, I don't know about you, but I have no desire to handcuff us to a goalie forever, even one as good as Rask. Goalies with long contracts? Roberto Luongo and Ilya Bryzgalov's contracts are a pair I would not want regardless of play, Jonathan Quick's contract is already looking like a little over-ambitous, and while Pekka Rinne is great and all, that contract will probably not stay worth it either.
Would he sign such a contract? I really hope so. It is certainly a home discount, but we do have the advantage that there aren't any comparables under the new CBA for goalies yet, unlike the markets for star centres, wingers, and future star defensemen set by the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in recent weeks. This might help our case.
Signing Tuukka to those terms would leave us with $2,386,905 in cap space next year. This is bad, given that we have 3 remaining mandatory roster spaces to fill for next season, backup goalie, top-line RW, and a 5-6 D (I will not be counting 7D or 13F, because those slots can be filled after the start of the season once Savard is put on LTIR, sort of creating cap space, which I feel may be unavoidable next season).
So. Assuming my Pollyanna approach to signing Tuukka works (May the FSM make it so), we need to sign a backup goalie. Dobie has been excellent in this role this season, which, while great on the ice, is an issue again in contract negotiations. Idiots in the media (Joe Haggerty, I'm looking in your direction) suggesting we have a goaltending controversy (we absolutely do not- not a knock on Dobie's skills) are most certainly not helping. His current deal of $875,000 is a great bargain for who (Khu?) has proven to be an excellent backup. I'm not sure I see him signing a similar number next season. I expect he will want roughly $1 million, a modest raise, but not all that helpful on the salary cap front. Our options in the minors aren't actually any cheaper, as Niklas Svedberg makes the same money, and Malcolm Subban's ELC is actually more at $1,525,000/yr. Letting Dobie go and calling up Svedberg causes other issues too, as then we have no competent goalies in Providence, as Subban won't be AHL eligible yet, Michael Hutchinson's ELC expires this summer, and I'm not so sure he will be staying in the system, and Adam Morrison just isn't very good. (Lars Volden could be the wild card there, and given that Zane Gothberg is only a freshman at UND, I'm assuming he is unavailable like Subban).
So, Pollyanna strikes again, and we'll assume a cap hit of $1 million next year for Dobie, a reasonable number for a good backup, who after this season still won't have that many NHL starts under his belt.
This leaves us with $1,386,905 in cap space for 2013-2014, still needing a top-line RW, a 3LW, and a 6-7D.
So, how do we solve this?
Well, without some salary dumps, I just don't see how Horton and Ference stay with this team. Again, I am including Savard's cap hit, because if we can't ice a full team without him on LTIR, we are in trouble. I reserve that space for carrying a 7D and 13F, or for in-season roster additions.
So, assuming we don't clear space, what are we losing here? Horton is potentially somewhat overpaid at present. He signed a 6-year, $24 million contract with the Panthers starting in the 2007-2008 season. His points per game over that time is as follows: 0.76, 0.67, 0.88, 0.66, 0.70, 0.52. The last three are his season with the Bruins in 10-11, 11-12, and 12-13, with comparable numbers in the two seasons prior in his ELC. There seems to be a decent downward trend in his numbers since coming to the Bruins, except his tragically short campaign in 11-12, where he was lighting up the world in November and December before Tom Sestito decided to take his head off. I don't know if hes just playing off this year or not, but those numbers are not good to be having in a contract year. Plus, his career ceiling is only 0.88 ppg in 09-10 with 57 points over 65 games.All that said, this may work to our advantage, as he may be persuaded to take a lighter contract. Once can hope anyway.
Assuming he doesn't, what are our options?
Well, if you want to keep a strong RW on the Lucic-Krejci line, one would bump up Seguin to that line, and maybe Peverley to the Bergeron-Marchand line (or Pevs to Lucic-Krejci, and keep Segs where his is if you want to preserved the strength of the SMB line). Then suddenly we have no wingers with Kelly on the third line, but with our budget and current assets, that will be easier to fill. Remember, my numbers, based on Capgeek as of today, March 23, are including Spooner. I don't know if Spoons can move to wing, or which side would be better (he shoots left, so he might be a solution for the 3LW spot). This would probably be the best course of action, as there are no UFA RW that could provide what Horton does for less money. The only names that jump out at me a possible in that regard are Pascal Dupuis, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Damien Brunner. And frankly, only Bouchard really has a chance of being cheaper than Horton, and even then probably not cheaper enough (although Dupuis is the most interesting to me, and given their cap issues at the end of 2013-2014, the Pens might just let him go).
So, the only way to replace Horton through free agency is to bump Segs and Pevs up and find a much much cheaper 3RW UFA.
But, we have (some) options within the organization. According to Hockey's Future (S/T to BOB there), our internal RW situation isn't exactly amazing, with Brian Ferlin, Carter Camper, and Jared Knight being our best prospects in that area. Ferlin is in his sophomore season at Cornell, and probably not going pro for at least another year. Knight is probably the stronger prospect than Camper in Providence, but has been having some injury issues, so who knows. Either would probably be the cheapest options to fill a 3RW hole, although Camper is RFA after this season. So for mathing purposes, I will use Knight's $870,000 next year.
So I might have just put Spooner and Knight on Kelly's wings. Not really sure how I feel about that, or if its even an option, but we will run with that for the time being, leaving us with only $516,905 in cap space next season. This is below next seasons league minimum salary of $550,000 with an open roster spot on defense.
Again, within the rules that I've imposed on myself here, we need a salary dump to be able to put anyone in that position (I think we agree that this would ideally be Torey Krug and his$1,704,167 cap hit if we can make this happen).
So, given that it seems that if we want to actually be able to carry a full roster on opening day (we do, don't we?), someone has to go. This isn't even really a point of debate, the maths say so.
We do have those amnesty buyouts, yes, and we can bicker all day long over who to use them on (top 3 candidates, in terms of ROI on the buyout would be Boychuck, Kelly, and Peverley), but a buyout is frankly only worth it if we can't make the space be dumping salary in trades, trying to get either picks or prospects back.
So, who is mobile? To find this we need to wander into the contractual clusterfuck of the No-Movement and No-Trade clause. Chiarelli has, unfortunately, been a little heavy-handed with these, but there are some silver linings: Only only Bergy, Kelly, and Z have full NMC's, and really, 2 of those are no-brainers (Kelly's comes from no-brains at all, but it is what it is). Players that are moveable, but will probably not be moved include Lucic, Marchand, and Seguin, all of whom have Modified NTC's, but Capgeek is a little light on the details. This doesn't matter, as they all can be considered keepers. Similarly, Seids has a limited NTC (terms not specified), but is not someone we would be looking to move to my reckoning.
Between now and July 1, the only completely moveable players who aren't impeding free agents are Krejci, Peverley, all of the Merlot line, and McQuaid. This list gets shorter on July 1, when Krejci's modified NTC kicks in.
Trading parts of Merlot or McQuaid would not open up much space that wouldn't cost the same or close to it to replace (with the possible exceptions of McQuaid and Thornton), so I don't really see that happening.
I'll just come right out and say it, I am mostly opposed to trading Krejci, he is a much harder skill set to replace than usually gets credit, but the option will remain after July 1, where he can submit a list of 6 teams he cannot be traded to. He does have the advantage over other options in that he would get a real return in a salary dump trade because he is a very valuable player.
Peverley has no NTC. He has a versatile skill set, can play at any forward position, anywhere in the top 9 of most teams if need be, but is best suited to a 2nd line position. Despite his poor season thus far, he has a fair bit of value in a trade because of this, but losing him only puts us in need of a 1 or 2 RW again.
My opinion? The player who is the best combination of tradeable and replaceable is Boychuck. His full NTC ended on Feb 1 2013, and from now until June 30, he can submit a list of 8 teams he would accept a trade to. After that? a list off 15 teams. He is a solid second pairing defenseman on a reasonable-ish contract, and could probably fetch a 2nd rounder in trade. Yes, it leaves us with another hole on defense, but subtracting his $3,366,667 gives us $3,883,572 in cap space, enough to bring up Krug and sign a serviceable 6th or 7th defenseman (someone like Ron Hainsey, Jordan Leopold, or Toni Lydman might be reachable within the $2,175,405 that we would have left after bringing up Krug). Heck, resigning Ference wouldn't be off the table for me at long as it was about $1.5 million, although my pick out of Hainsey-Leopold-Ference-Lydman would be Lydman, so lets assume Lydman at $2 million, because I like him.
So I think I've now put together a full game roster with $175,405 left on the cap, with the following lines:
And yes, I realize I never addressed the Caron issue, but lets face it, hes probably headed out in a deadline trade this season.
Okay, almost 2700 words later. Wow. Flame on!