NHL News: 10 Ways the Boston Bruins Can Improve Their Roster For 2010-2011
After a roller-coaster campaign and being ousted in devastating style by the Philadelphia Flyers, the Boston Bruins still have quite a bit of work to do this offseason to ensure they don’t give anymore of their loyal fans heart conditions next season.
New additions Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, and Tyler Seguin will definitely add some needed offense to a team that imploded in their attacking zone last year—going from 2nd in the league to the bottom of the barrel over the course of one offseason.
And with what has has already been an offseason of speculation and rumors surrounding the team taking place, the B’s are the primed to complete several key moves to upgrade their current roster.
Although the Bruins are tight up agains the cap there are still several moves that can be made internally, and also a few that could make for some much-needed cap relief. These are just a few actions that could really benefit the roster for 2010-2011.
Please keep in mind these are just my opinions based on my knowledge of the team and their current situation. Please feel free to let me know what you think and if you would do anything different.
So without further ado, here are the 10 way that the Bruin’s can improve their roster for the 2010-2011 season.
This article can also be seen on my Bruin's Blog - Beware The Bear at www.mtrmedia.com/bostonbruins—check it out!
1. Sign Tyler Seguin
After being selected No. 2 overall in this year’s NHL Entry Draft Tyler Seguin continued to impress the Bruin’s management in the Development Camp held by the team.
"He's always attacking with speed. That's one of his assets. A tremendous asset.” Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said of him before the final day of the five-day camp.
But management aren’t the only ones who were impressed with Seguin’s talent level as he stole the show throughout the week. After he scored a backhand goal in a breakaway drill that beat the goalie glove side under the crossbar, “SEGUIN! SEGUIN!” was being chanted from the packed stands in Wilmington, MA.
He’s quickly given the fans of an organization, who have been plagued with two heart-wrenching playoff exits in as many years, the hope of succeeding with its new youthful talent—something the Bruins have been known for in recent history.
Seguin should be an immediate impact player, and making the transition from center to wing should allow him to focus more of his energy on his offensive game, because playing wing will give him less defensive responsibility. It will also give him the opportunity to play alongside two top-tier playmakers in David Krejci and Marc Savard.
This is a young-gun packed with the talent and potential that B’s fans haven’t seen since Big Joe Thornton came into the league, that’s what makes signing Seguin to his first NHL contract such high priority for the upcoming year.
2. Trade Tim Thomas
Whenever you’re looking to upgrade you need to have the money to accommodate those changes, and right now the B’s only have $587,229 left in cap space with 18 players signed and a lot of work to do.
That’s when having a 35+ year old back-up goaltender that makes $15 million over the next three seasons, such a big problem. Tim Thomas has a $5 million annual cap hit, and has a no-trade clause to boot, making him one of the biggest thorns in the side of Bruins management.
The good news is that he has agreed to waive his NTC in order to become a starter for another team. Unfortunately, no one wants to take on that kind of salary for that many years to acquire an aging goaltender coming of hip surgery this offseason.
The Bruins need to be actively trying to shed Thomas and his salary, even if it means practically giving him away because the cap relief is just the return they are looking for.
Timmy is a fan favorite but I think by this time fans have grown tired of how his contract has handcuffed management and accepted that changes need to be made.
And come on, let’s face it—IT’s TUUKKA TIME!
3. Demote/Trade/Buyout Michael Ryder
It’s time to do SOMETHING with Michael Ryder, anything really. The underachieving winger makes $4 million a year, and last season only potted 18 goals and was virtually non-existent come playoff time.
So the B’s basically have four options when it comes to Ryder:
1. Demote him. Which means they send him to Providence of the AHL and his contract in buried there and taken off their books.
2. Trade him. Unfortunately there aren’t many teams in the market for a heartless sniper who can’t snipe. The only reason there is a chance someone may take him is because they need to make the cap floor(the lowest amount of salary a team can carry a season) and he only has one year remaining on his current contract.
3. Buy him out. Since Blake Wheeler filed for arbitration the Bruins get another buyout period, where they can buy out his contract and owe a fraction of it for the season.
4. Use Sturm’s injury time as a tryout. Give him a chance to prove himself during the two months Sturm is injured. The reason they can do this is because of the fact Sturm’s $3.5 million salary hit comes off the books while he’s on the long term injured reserve, giving them a little wiggle room.
The fourth may be the best option for the team for he has the talent to be close to a 30 goal scorer, it just depends on whether he shows up or not.
4. Get Marco Sturm Healthy
He played 76 games this season and was the Bruins leading scorer with 22 goals. That says a lot about their offense, which means they can’t afford to lose those 22 goals.
The speedy German suffered a knee injury in the first game of the Philadelphia playoff series this year, which tipped of the epic collapse that would later take place. That injury will keep him out until late November or December and in that time the Bruins will not only miss his point production, but also his speed that creates space and opens up not only for himself but for his line mates as well.
Getting him back into the lineup is crucial, because once he returns the Bruins will have a new-look offense with a very solid top-nine. Adding Seguin, Horton, and Campbell should give their offense the extra pop that they lost in Kessel the year prior, which had a lot to do with their offensive woes this season.
5. Acquire A Puck-Moving Defenseman
Although many feel the team benefitted greatly from trading away Dennis Wideman, and they may be right, but in doing so they lost their best puck-moving defenseman regardless of how many bad turnovers he committed over the course of a game.
Losing him leaves a big hole on the back-end for someone who can move the puck up on the power play and during breakouts, whether it’s by moving their feet or by passing it up. Obtaining this kind of player would be crucial for bolstering their defensive corps, and ensuring the productivity of their power play.
They have a plethora of picks and prospects they could use as trade bait, but the problem that they face when doing so is the salary they would take on. So if they were to make an offer for a defenseman of this caliber, they’d most likely need to package a roster player with significant salary and a prospect or picks in order to satisfy both parties.
Some options would be Tomas Kaberle, Robyn Regehr, or Pavel Kubina to name a few. Or they could be patient and wait for newly acquired Boston University Terrier David Warsofsky to develop, who has another year at BU before making his move to the NHL.
If they choose to wait, they might as well get an experienced defender because next year they will have a ton of salary coming off the books leaving them with $26.69 million in cap space.
It may not be an immediate need, but it is one that will need to be addressed in order to be a Stanley Cup contender. So once they have they have the financial capability, look for the B’s to make some noise trying to obtain that cherished player on the back end.
6. Leave An Open Roster Spot
Why spend more money if you don’t need to? And instead, why not entice a little internal competition between teammates. That’s what the Bruin’s management should be asking themselves when it comes to filling up their roster, especially their fourth line.
They have so many prospects that are on the cusp of being ready to compete at the professional level, so why not have them push each other by allowing them to battle for that fourth line roster spot this year. Instead of going out and spending $1-1.5 million on a grinder, let your prospects get some experience while pushing themselves to the limit trying to be better than the other.
With players like Max Sauve, Joe Colborne, Jordan Caron, Jared Knight, Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner, why not let them battle it out for that spot? You’d get to have them play at a much cheaper price, while getting 110% every time they touch the ice—and if you don’t you move on to the next guy.
It isn’t worth spending extra money when you have so many potential difference-makers just waiting in the wings at a discounted price.
7. Re-Sign Chara and Bergeron To Cap-Friendly Deals
Two of the Bruins captains last year will be part of the large exodus of salary that is coming off the books next year. Zdeno Chara, the Bruins massive captain, has a $7.5 million annual cap hit, which ties up a lot of the Bruins cap space every year. In order to be a contender every year they need to have sufficient money to sign other high quality players to deals, and Chara will most likely be asked to take a pay cut next year.
Knowing what it takes to win, and being their captain the last four years, I can see Chara complying with little resistance. I would also see them asking the same of Patrice Bergeron and his $4.75 million annual salary. Bergeron has been the heart and soul of this Bruins team for years now—often having the most well-rounded game out of anyone on either side of the ice.
Both players will likely be asked to sign long-term cap-friendly deals much like the one Marc Savard just signed, which would be beneficial to the organization money wise and the players by securing their foreseeable future.
So expect both of these deals to be completed sooner rather than later, with minimal problems and not being dragged out—yes, I’m referring to you Kovalchuk.
8. Get Rid of Andrew Ference
Trade him, buy him out, demote him, release him, he does nothing for the team besides tie up $2.25 million a year in salary that his performance doesn’t warrant. Ference spends much of the season every year on the disabled list, getting hurt regularly annually. From groins to hernias, you name is and he’s had it.
Not only is he not beneficial to the team, he is actually destructive. I’ve heard from a very reliable inside source that he is a distraction in the locker room and that Mark Recchi is not a fan of him in any way, shape, or form.
When he’s healthy enough to be on the ice, he is undersized and a defensive liability to make matters even worse. I’d rather give the opportunity to Matt Hunwick and allow him to try to regain his form from two seasons ago when he was a very effective offensive defenseman. It doesn’t matter how they do it but they need to rid themselves of Andy Ference.
9. Sign Blake Wheeler Before Arbitration
Although he doesn’t use his size to his advantage and would be a much more effective force if he did, Blake Wheeler is still a valuable player to the Bruins, and one they should work out a contract with before the arbitration hearing.
In two seasons with the club Wheeler has netted 39 goals 44 assists for 83 points, not bad for only being a sophomore. And while he put up seven less points this year than the year prior, he isn’t the only one who has ever gone through a sophomore slump. The entire team was in a funk the entire year, with Bergeron being their leading scorer with a mere 53 point campaign.
Because of his inconsistent play and his finesse game, many Bruins faithful have given up on Wheeler, but I think we’ve yet to see what he can do so it would be a mistake not to bring him back for at least another season.
10. Retain Marc Savard
All the Marc Savard trade speculation has started a frenzy surrounded the team from Beantown, spurring much speculation as to why he is being shopped. No matter what the reason it would be a huge mistake to let go of Savard, and could have major ramifications in many years to come.
For one, he just signed a long-term cap-friendly deal to retire a Bruin, so what type of message are you sending to other players and free agents that you could potentially sign by bailing on a player in the first year of his new contract. Not only that, but they gave him a no-trade clause and immediately asked him to waive it.
He’s been the Bruins leading scorer the past two years, excluding this one due to his lengthy injury stint due to his severe concussion. The B’s goals per game number dropped over a half a goal per game without Savard, and with their offense in the condition it was last year they need all the help they can get. Their power play struggled tremendously without him going 0 for 25 at one point.
With young scoring talent like Seguin coming in, and a proven sniper in Horton, we may never get to see what could have been. They could make the next Savard-Kessel connection, and it would be a real shame if everyone was left saying “what if.”