The Bruins have reportedly been in on acquiring either Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche, with Don Sweeney spending a whole intermission talking to Avs GM Joe Sakic. Eschewing looking at the on ice play of Duchene and Landeskog, let's just focus on their impact on the salary cap both in the now and in the future.
Here are a list of Bruins forwards under contract (or RFA’s pending extensions that can happen this season/offseason) through 2018-19
David Krejci - UFA 2021-22 - $7.25m
Patrice Bergeron - UFA 2022-23 - $6.875m
Brad Marchand - UFA 2025-26 - $6.125m
David Backes - UFA 2021-22 - $6.0m
Matt Beleskey - UFA 2020-21 - $3.8m
David Pastrnak - RFA, should be signed long term
Ryan Spooner - RFA, signed or traded
That’s already 7 players, with a current AAV of $30.3 million - and that includes Pastrnak (at just under a point per game) and Ryan Spooner, who has been solid, if unspectacular between second line left wing and third line center this year. Add one of the two players below, and their long term commitments jump up to around 36 million (about half of the salary cap, which has stagnated the past few years
Gabriel Landeskog? - UFA 2020-21 - $5.571m
Matt Duchene? - UFA 2019-20 - $6.0m
Not only is it the money that would impact the Bruins, but all of that money tied up long term also means that it becomes tougher for prospects to get playing time. Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Jesse Gabrielle, and more will all face an uphill battle for solid minutes with just a few spots open in the top nine. The Bruins could still move out a player or two from there, with Spooner being the most obvious choice given the raise he will likely ask for, and who the Bruins have to replace him, and Krejci or Beleskey other potential options, since they just signed Marchand and Backes, and trading Bergeron would be the final straw for most fans. Granted, the Bruins recent track record would have them trading Pastrnak, but surely after having been burned on three or four separate occasions, they'll learn, right?
Looking at how the Bruins long term cap outlook compares to other teams:
I chose the 2018-19 season as my baseline, as players who signed 3 year ELCs starting this year would have them expiring at the end of that year. The Bruins have 7 million more tied up in forward cap hits for the 2018-19 season than the average team ($30million to $22.9million) for only .13 extra forward. Per forward, that’s $1.3million more than average, fifth in the league, only behind the Ducks, Capitals, Blackhawks, and the Stars. In total cap hits for those forwards, they are fourth, behind only the Blackhawks, Flyers, and Ducks. These numbers are all current contract obligations, including LTIR, but not RFA players and other players who will be needing extensions. Below, % F is the percentage of total committed cap hits dedicated to forwards
Pre Backes signing, if the Bruins had felt they needed a player like a Landeskog or a Duchene, I would be less against it, especially with Duchene. The cost to acquire would be much greater, but there would be less risk, especially in the later years of their deals, as they’ll be 28 when they expire. Handcuffing themselves now and potentially having to sell off assets for pennies on the dollar like they did with Boychuk and Reilly Smith after giving up the ransom that Colorado is reported to want would be another example of asset mismanagement by the Bruins front office.