By: Mike Cratty | Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Regardless of who you wanted the Bruins to acquire, Don Sweeney has done a serviceable job this offseason. Could he have done more? Yes. Does losing Torey Krug hurt? Of course. But the addition of Craig Smith and potentially more of Jack Studnicka are a couple of reasons to get excited about this team.
Additionally, a one-way deal for Jakub Zboril has sent the message that the organization is high on him as a potential NHL defenseman this season. He had a great season in Providence that really helped him get back on the map. There are worse potential replacements for Krug. Looking forward, the Bruins still have things to figure out to get the team ready for the 2020-2021 season.
Sign Jake DeBrusk and figure out what to do with Zdeno Chara
Dallas Stars winger Denis Gurianov (two years, $2.55M AAV) and Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik (two years, $3.7M AAV) has set solid parameters for DeBrusk’s contract negotiations. The players are around the same age, are all wingers, and boast fairly similar offensive production, to an extent. I think DeBrusk is closer to Gurianov in that scenario, and for that reason, my prediction for him is a two-year deal worth $2.7M annually. What is holding up negotiations is currently unknown, so we just have to wait to see what happens.
Zdeno Chara’s situation is much different. Chara and his agent, Matt Keator have stated that they would be patient, and they sure are keeping true to their word. Does the one-way deal for Zboril, and the presence of left-handed defensemen like Jeremy Lauzon, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, and potentially even Jack Ahcan and/or Nick Wolff make the organization feel comfortable moving on from their captain? I still sort of doubt it.
Chara has made it clear that he wants to help this team win, but what’s taking so long to get the likely one-year deal done? We don’t know which teams have reached out to him, and maybe he is seriously mulling retirement. His future is the organization’s biggest question mark at the moment. My guess is a one-year deal at $1.5M with bonuses or retirement for the big man.
Figuring out John Moore’s future
Moore is likely going to be on the outside looking in to start the season at least. His contract could be moved to give the Bruins some more future cap flexibility and pave a clearer path for the organization’s young left-handed defenseman. Not only do they have depth on the left side, outside of the team’s top right-handed defensemen, but they also have veterans like Kevan Miller and Steven Kampfer on the right side. The depth in the organization is pretty solid on defense.
Moore is a pretty middle of the road bottom-four, depth defenseman, so he wouldn’t net much back in a trade, but the money freed up would certainly help. Apologies for the blurriness of the image below, I’m not sure why it’s like that, as the picture is much clearer at evolving-hockey.com. Goddamn technology.
Could Sweeney look to move Moore’s contract? Definitely. But, my gut tells me that they liked him enough to sign him to a fairly sizeable deal for a depth defenseman back in July of 2018, and they’ll keep him for depth for this season at minimum. We’ve seen this team get decimated by injuries before, so it wouldn’t be the worst idea to move him. Lastly, they don’t desperately need the flexibility at the moment, as I think $6.65 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, should be enough to sign DeBrusk and Chara.
However things end up panning out, I still see this team being pretty relevant in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With some big change taking place and the potential departure of Chara, I think it is too early to say for sure whether they will be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender or not. We’ll find out in time though.
(EV & PP RAPM type data via evolving-hockey.com)