Two moves...tick, tick...still two moves. Alright, so are we better off today than we were a day ago?
I see you nodding your head yes. But this leaves me with a very interesting thought in mine. Maybe it’s me, but I think Peter Chiarelli’s move on deadline day were brilliant. I know an aging winger and a defenseman.
Remember, I am talking about the Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. You know that really smart guy that seems to make all these brilliant moves? Yeah, that guy.
I know I’ve been away from my friends here in Bruin-ville. I apologize I’ve been working on spring previews for Major League Baseball. But the equivalent of Palm Sunday on the NHL calendar had my eyes glued to the TV.
I mean this is Canada; Deadline day gets more coverage than elections, wars, and visits by heads of state combined. The lead up to the trade deadline had many a Bruins fan assessing needs and wants. I heard we don’t need anything as a common refrain.
So about a week ago I started thinking, why would this Bruins team make a move? They are deep, they are young, and can score. Then it hit me, look at the cap situation and the number of young players the Bruins have. The type of let's-win-it-right-now moves the Bruins made yesterday makes perfect sense.
Let me first say that Mark Recchi and Steve Montador make you a better team today. The Bruins are better prepared for the play-offs on Mar. 5 than they were on Mar. 3. So I have no problem with the moves from a win now stand point.
To be fair, this league has become more of a win now league than ever.
Look at the Bruins to be free agents next year and follow me to find why these moves aren't just good, but great. A free-agent class led by Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Matt Hunwick, Tim Thomas, PJ Axelsson, Stephane Yelle, Byron Bitz, Manny Fernandez, and Shane Hnidy and after yesterdays moves add Steve Montador, Mark Recchi to the list.
Now that list isn’t up there to scare you, just put it in perspective. How do you get all those guys back under contract? Next part may frighten you a little bit, so grab something to bite down on; I promise you’ll be happy when we’re done.
In the new NHL your window to win is tight, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins, unless you can manage your stars and build around them a la the Detroit Red Wings. Yesterdays moves mean that the Bruins are committed to only 14 players for next season at a total cap hit of $42.5 million.
If I was to estimate that the cap will be approximately the same as it is this year. (It might be less because revenues are down, but stay with me because it will affect all teams spending proportionally so it doesn’t matter that much.)
That would set the number at about $59.5 million, giving the Bruins a free $17 million to spend to resign key players like Kessel, Krejci, Hunwick and Thomas.
Now I know what you’re saying, we didn’t really need the room because three of the four are restricted free agents.
Although that is true, there is nothing in the collective agreement that says that a GM won’t throw a ton of money the way of Kessel or Krejci for that matter, a young player that has turned himself into a point a game centre at the age of 22 and looks to be getting better. (A la the Kevin Lowe situation with Thomas Vanick and Dustin Penner a couple of years back.)
This maybe paranoia but to be fair it’s not completely out of the question to see at least one of these guys get a big deal the Bruins have to match in order to retain the youngster.
You currently have Tuukka Rask under contract for another year at $850,000 and signing Thomas to deal seems like the way to go. Then you have to ask are we ready to commit $6 million to Thomas at the age of 35?
Minnesota just put four years and $24 million into Backstrom. I think Boston is kidding itself if it thinks Thomas won’t be looking for a similar deal, at least dollar-amount wise.
He is coming off back to back all-star seasons and a year where he looks primed to finish in the top three goals against and save percentage. (He’s currently ranked first in both.)
So I know on the surface yesterday’s moves look ok, but when you drill down a little deeper it is proof that the Bruins are committed to winning right now, and realize these are the kinds of sacrifices you must make in the new NHL to win for years to come.
Tick tock, click...check...your move Eastern conference.