By: Lauren Spencer | Follow Me on Twitter: @laurenspenc
When Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci returned to the Bruins last summer, they both came on cap-friendly deals that had bonuses that would impact the 2023-2024 season salary cap. Now that the time has come to pay up, the Bruins front office have found themselves in a difficult situation. There are a lot of players at the end of their contracts, a lack of draft picks, and not a lot of flexibility to sign free agents. With eight unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents, and less than $5,000,000 in cap space, there will have to be some changes to the team we know now.
In his Tuesday press conference, Don Sweeney acknowledged the tricky situation that the Bruins will have to navigate through. To make sure that the team remains cap compliant, there will most definitely be an influx of Providence players making the jump up to Boston. In addition, the Bruins will have to trade roster players to clear space. While this team has been fun to watch and had great chemistry, there are certain players that have pros and cons to being moved in the off-season.
One player who is familiar with being traded is left-winger Taylor Hall. Hall, currently with two years left on his $6M per year deal, has a modified ten-team no-trade clause. Despite missing twenty games with an injury in the back half of the season, Hall had a very productive series against the Florida Panthers in Round one. He had five goals and three assists in seven games, tying Tyler Bertuzzi for the team lead in playoff goals. A Hart Trophy winner, Hall can be valuable to any team that he is on. Unfortunately, he is thirty-one, and the Bruins are looking at developing a younger core. If Taylor Hall can be moved to clear space and gain draft picks, it may be a deal worth looking at for the Bruins.
There are a few pieces to the Bruins defense that have the potential to be moved. Players that stick out are Derek Forbort and Matt Grzelcyk. Forbort is coming off of a tough playoff series, where he often found himself turning over the puck and making harmful mistakes. However, throughout the year, Forbort was an extremely productive penalty killer, helping lead the Bruins to one of the top kills in the league. With one year left and a $3M cap hit, Forbort stands in a position of uncertainty about his future.
Grzelyck had a successful playoff series, even with being scratched in three games. He is smaller sized than other defensemen but effective at breaking out forechecks. He was also second in the league for plus/minus, only trailing Hampus Lindholm. Grzelyck, at age twenty-nine, is under contract for one more season with a cap hit of $3.6M. Grzelyck also often plays well when paired with Charlie McAvoy, who is locked up long-term with the Bruins. Having confirmation from Sweeney this morning that McAvoy, Lindholm, and Brandon Carlo are the defensive core that the Bruins are committed to, having chemistry with McAvoy may help Matt Grzelyck stay with the team.
While this may give flashbacks to the many years that “Trade Tuukka!” was a Boston storyline, the Bruins may potentially consider moving Linus Ullmark. Ullmark had the best season of his career and is the likely Vezina winner, meaning his trade value may never be higher. He also comes on a contract that most teams would be happy to take on. With two years left at $5M, the Bruins could move Ullmark knowing that they have a great player in Jeremy Swayman. Swayman, a restricted free agent that should be a priority signing for the team, is five years younger than Ullmark and would be the starting goalie in multiple other franchises. No one wants to break up the hugging tandem, but sometimes these decisions need to be made without the emotional aspect.
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