By: Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards
The Boston Bruins seem to be in many trade conversations from several different sources around the National Hockey League. General manager Don Sweeney has allegedly put feelers out on the interest level of several players. Anders Bjork has been talked about as a player that has drawn interest from the Edmonton Oilers, possibly in exchange for winger Alex Chaisson. Restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk’s name has been mentioned as a trade chip as the Bruins look to add a left-shot defenseman to replace unrestricted free agent Torey Krug, who is unlikely to re-sign with the club. Even Tuukka Rask and David Krejci, each with one year left on their current deals, might be involved in the right move.
The general consensus has been that Sweeney would like to use the over $14 million in salary-cap space the team has to restructure the roster to make another run at the Stanley Cup. However, when the top unrestricted free agents such as forward Taylor Hall are discussed in trade rumors, the Bruins have not been in that conversation much. In fact, in recent days, Boston has been linked to lesser tier players like Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen (RFA) or Nashville’s Craig Smith (UFA). These additions would more than likely cost less than a higher-end free agent or a more high impact trade acquisition.
The Bruins have spent to the cap or close to it for the last several seasons. Owner Jeremy Jacobs has opened the bank account far more frequently than he had years ago. But, much of the revenue that Jacobs’ company Delaware North generates comes from the concessions that are sold during TD Garden events. Since March, there have been no events at the arena and significantly less money than in a typical year. Many teams are struggling with the prospect of beginning the 2020-21 season in a bubble scenario with no fans. If this happens, there will continue to be very little revenue from events.
So who is to say that, while most people just assume that the Bruins will continue to spend and improve the roster, it could be a case where the Bruins look for cheaper options to try to fill holes in the lineup. Boston could actually use some of their younger prospects like center Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon and insert them into the NHL roster full time. The Black and Gold could also re-sign Matt Grzelcyk to a more affordable deal and have the former Boston University star play on the top defensive pair with Charlie McAvoy. DeBrusk could sign for a less expensive “bridge deal,” and the Bruins might sign defensemen Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller to one-year minimum contracts. There are also opportunities for buyouts of the contracts of Nick Ritchie and John Moore.
With all the anticipation surrounding this supposed busy offseason and roster revamp for the Boston Bruins, it could be that Jacobs and Sweeney see an opportunity to keep the payroll down until the league finalizes a plan for the next season. Maybe the team is trying to be proactive and cautious about adding payroll and taking this opportunity to reset the roster some and see what the team has in their young players. Time will tell, but I would not be so sure that Jeremy Jacobs’ Boston Bruins will be spending to the cap just before a season that could be much the same as the last.