The Bruins spent like they had money to burn on Wednesday, adding close to $20 million in AAV to their roster.
GM Don Sweeney had needs to meet and cap space to play with heading into free agency, and he certainly didn’t hesitate.
It’s fair to say that the B’s addressed some needs on Wednesday, but they’re ending the day with a giant question mark still looming: what is going to happen with David Krejci?
Earlier this week, we read reports that a new deal with Krejci was closer than many anticipated, easing concerns among the more anxious members of the fan base.
Plus, there wasn’t a ton to worry about — the Bruins had plenty of space to fit Krejci in.
However, after today’s spending spree left cap space at a bare minimum and Sweeney started using phrases like “center by committee,” it’s fair to be a bit more concerned.
“David and I have communicated pretty consistently over the last little while,” said Sweeney at Wednesday evening’s media briefing. “Nothing has changed on that front. He has his own reasons and he’s going to keep those private, as I am in terms of what his timeline is. Not unlike [Tuukka Rask], we’ve left things completely open-ended about him possibly returning to play for us.”
Alright, so there’s still dialog...that’s great. But where’s he going to fit?
Minute details will change the actual total, but for the sake of argument, call it $1.5 million — that’s likely not enough to fit Krejci on the roster.
“As you can see from several of the signings and the approach that we took, the center ice position...a little bit by committee,” said Sweeney. “We’re going to have to do that and allow some players to get into spots and hopefully perform to the level that they’re capable of.”
Basically, it seems like some of the versatile guys acquired today were acquired as contingency plans — and that’s not great news for the Bruins.
Today’s depth signings look great for the Bruins if Krejci is back in the mix: your entire top six returns, and you add a healthy amount of talent to what had been a troublesome bottom six in guys like Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek.
Without Krejci, however, things look a little dicey.
If, for example, your second line is Taylor Hall - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith and your third line is Jake DeBrusk - Erik Haula - Nick Foligno (or flip Haula and Foligno), I’m not sure you’re any better than last season (when secondary scoring was a legitimate problem).
If you want to get optimistic and hope that Jack Studnicka can be your 2C, sure, that makes the third line look better, but you’re asking a lot of the kid.
You can look at all of today’s moves two different ways:
- The Bruins acquired a bunch of forward depth because there’s a trade coming, which will create space for Krejci.
- The Bruins acquired a bunch of forward depth because they don’t think Krejci is coming back.
Obviously there are layers in between these two absolutes, but to me, the Bruins’ Cup prospects look drastically different depending on which bullet holds true.
To me, some of the Bruins moves today scream “a trade is coming.”
I’m still not convinced the team is comfortable with Derek Forbort being the only upgrade on defense, and with a glut of forwards, there might be moves to be made.
However, if you’re making a trade to upgrade on D, you’re not creating any space, so that’s kind of a separate conversation.
If you just want to clear space, Jake DeBrusk is the most obvious candidate, though it’d be the ultimate case of selling low.
Originally, not qualifying Nick Ritchie told me DeBrusk was going to get another go-round; given today’s signings, I’m not so sure.
The best way for the Bruins to clear some space might be to agree to take a significant discount for DeBrusk in exchange for his new team also taking on John Moore.
A move like that would create more than $5 million in space, but wouldn’t exactly be great asset management.
The B’s could also try to move DeBrusk, Moore, and Chris Wagner individually, but the latter two likely won’t command nearly as much interest as DeBrusk (who, in spite of a down year, likely still has suitors out there).
I guess that’s ultimately what the main point here is: unless the Bruins make a move, David Krejci isn’t coming back.
“David is a unique player and he’s been a tremendous Bruin and a highly productive player throughout his career,” said Sweeney. “We hope that that will continue, but along that timeline of when he sees fit, not when we do.”
The Bruins are a better team with Krejci in the mix, and it’d behoove them to do whatever they can to get him back at 2C by October — even if it means taking a lesser return for an asset or two.