By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
The Covid-19 virus has put a close to the remaining National Hockey League games in the 2019-20 regular season and prompted the forward movement of a 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format. With a loss of the 181 games that the league was supposed to complete before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the financial burden is probably going to be felt for the next two to three years. The return to play idea for the NHL is not only good for the league and players but also a way to recover lost revenue. I believe if the remaining regular-season games and playoffs in 2020 were canceled altogether, that financial burden could be felt even further.
All NHL teams are going to be affected with the potential of the $81.5 million league-mandated salary cap not rising for the foreseeable future, especially the teams that spend up to the ceiling every year. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams that have a lot on their plate when it comes to contract negotiations whenever the upcoming offseason happens. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney already knocked one negotiation off the list with a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak, but with an estimated $18 million to spend next season, his job is far from done.
Bruins players such as Anders Bjork (RFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), and more notably Torey Krug (UFA), are going to eat up a majority of that remaining cap space. This could hinder the Boston club with minimal funds available for further roster movement. With the above players mentioned needing new deals, this could be an opportunity to shed some funds to address future needs. The names I’ve listed below are just ideas that may save a few bucks with not entertaining returns to the Bruins organization and even using buy-out scenarios. These potential moves could also be for roster spots of developing players with the Providence Bruins that are about to cross the threshold of NHL careers at cap-friendly salary numbers.
Par Lindholm UFA After 20/21 Season
Lindholm has been a serviceable member of the Bruins organization, but his role on the team as a revolving 12th or 13th forward has me thinking it’s time for a change. In 40 games with the Boston club in 2019-20, the 28-year-old forward posted 3-3-6 numbers and has career totals of 4-15-19 in 105 NHL games. Par has one more year full season under contract, but even though his $850K isn’t a huge issue, he could be placed on waivers or bought out to free up a roster spot. If the Bruins were to entertain a buy-out option, per the Cap-Friendly.com website, the team would owe him $283K for the next two seasons.
Kevan Miller UFA
Miller who’s been with the Bruins organization since the 2011-12 season starting his professional career in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins is currently in his final year of a four-year contract. Kevan’s been a warrior throughout his time in Black & Gold but injuries and setbacks trying to get healthy have me thinking the 32-year-old’s time in Boston might’ve come to an end. With the salary cap not going up, any dollar value he could garner should be used for a healthy younger asset and relieve the bottleneck of developing blueliners rising from the AHL. With the Bruins cap problems, Miller might have a better opportunity elsewhere in the NHL with roster availabilities to continue the veteran’s career.
Joakim Nordstrom UFA
Nordstrom has been another serviceable player for the Bruins organization, but when a team is up against it, and roster availability is needed, this might be the last time we see the 28-year-old Swedish native. An effective penalty killer and a player Head Coach Cassidy could rely on up and down the lineup will be tough to walk away from, but when thinking about the future sustainability of the team, moves like this have to be considered. Nordstrom is currently in the last year of his two-year contract, which paid him $1 million per season. To save money and a roster spot, I could see the B’s looking to Providence to fill his position with a developing member of the club and cheaper dollar value.
Brett Ritchie RFA
Although the Ritchie project didn’t exactly work out for him and the Boston organization he is an RFA that was sent down to the Providence Bruins midseason to find his game pre-covid-19 regular-season pause. Even though Ritchie was sent down to the AHL, a majority of his NHL salary followed along with it and remained on the NHL Bruins salary cap. To save money I don’t believe a return to the B’s is a good idea moving forward. He’s a 26-year-old forward and is arbitration-eligible which is a scary thought when thinking about saving money. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both sides to walk away making him available to seek work in the NHL elsewhere because I don’t believe he’d entertain future contract negotiations to report back to the AHL next season.