Mike Hoffman has had an excellent career so far. NHL goalies have gotten better over time, and Hoffman is still potting around 30 goals per season, not an easy thing to do. The Boston Bruins need secondary scoring, and Mike Hoffman would be a great addition to the second line.
The Canadian winger is allowed to test free agency though the Panthers would like to have him back, new general manager Bill Zito is willing to risk losing him if that means that the Panthers do not overpay him, per Pierre LeBrun, TSN. His contract carries an average annual value of $5.187 million.
There are pros and cons to every player in the NHL, and Hoffman has many pros. The skills that he possesses, a wicked shot and great vision, have given him a nine-year career with over 350 points in almost 500 games. The contract he signed with the Senators in 2016 was a four-year, $20.75 million deal. He was traded to Florida after two years, but despite the change in locale, his goal-scoring did not suffer. He had a season-high 36 goals.
Hoffman went on a deep run with Ottawa in 2017 when they eliminated Boston in six games in overtime. The Senators made it to the Eastern Conference final game seven overtime and lost to a Chris Kunitz one-timer off a pass from Sidney Crosby. But, Mike Hoffman has played in the playoffs and has experienced how tough it is to win. He also played six games in 2015 and played four with Florida this past season, scoring three goals and five points. Playoff experience is a valuable commodity in the eyes of a hockey club’s general manager.
Hoffman is 30-years-old now and will be expecting a big contract for his consistency, and looking at his games played, he has stayed pretty healthy throughout his nine-year career. He will also be expecting a term, which is a problem because I am not sure the Bruins will be interested in signing another 30-year-old to a six, seven, or eight-year deal in the player’s post-prime.
Though there are more pros than cons, that contract that Hoffman wants might be out of their price range. Mike Hoffman is the target of many teams in the NHL, which will only drive up his asking price. He will want to sign long-term, and the Bruins may not be willing to give up so much money and so many years.
In my opinion, I believe the Bruins will not sign Mike Hoffman because the price will be too high. If the Bruins want to make a splash in free agency, you have to have enough room to be able to sign more than one guy, especially if the Bruins are rumored to lose Torey Krug and/or Jake DeBrusk.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
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Most Boston Bruins fans know the feeling of having their team pressed against the salary cap ceiling. It has actually been a common thing for the Bruins for most of this decade. Due to some bad contracts and having a deep, skilled roster, the Bruins haven’t had too much freedom entering most off-seasons.
The 2020 offseason is going to be an interesting one. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Bruins are actually in an okay spot compared to most teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheduled increase in the league wide salary cap has been cancelled and will remain the same.
Looking back at the past half decade, the Bruins have had some less than stellar contracts on their roster. By this, I don’t mean the fans that say Tuukka Rask or David Krejci are making too much because at that point, you’re just looking for something to complain about. I mean the David Backes and Matt Beleskey contracts.
Before I get into the numerics, in no way am I bashing these players. These are good hockey players that just happened to not work out in Boston. However, with that being said, with that comes a bad contract because the production didn’t equal the value.
For the past few years, the Bruins have been paying Backes $6 million per year, and while Beleskey was with the team they were paying him $3.8 million per year. Both of these players are not with the team so it gets a little more complicated now. Beleskey was a part of the Rick Nash trade back in 2018. Up until just this year, the Bruins were paying some retained salary on that contract. Backes was just moved to Anaheim this year and the Bruins will continue to pay $1.5 million per year in retained salary for the duration of his contract, which ends after next season. What most don’t know either is that until this year the Bruins were continuing to pay Dennis Seidenberg as a result of a buyout.
Now, the only thing on the books in terms of “dead money” is the $1.5 million owed to Backes. This is the best situation the Bruins have had in years. As of September 25th, 2020 and according to CapFriendly, the Bruins have roughly $14.4 million in cap space with notables like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to sign. You can speculate whether Krug and Chara will be back, but the fact of the matter is they have room to get deals done.
Another important factor to consider is the NHL’s buyout window opens today, September 25th. While the Bruins don’t have any really bad contracts on the books, could they look to clear up some more cap to take a run at a top free agent? While I personally believe the Bruins wont buy anyone out, one contract that I could see them getting off the books is John Moore. The defense on the Bruins is loaded with talent and he has been in and out of the lineup with his $2.75 million cap hit over the next three seasons. However, you can argue that if Krug does leave, his role becomes larger and he will be a valuable asset.
Time will tell what the Bruins do with their cap space, but the fact of the matter is the Bruins are in a very decent spot with their money compared to other teams. Trust in Don Sweeney.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
The Boston Bruins once again fell short of their ultimate goal of raising the Stanley Cup. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has his work cut out for him this off-season, and the possibility of Torey Krug not re-signing with the Bruins seems to becoming a reality. Sweeney didn’t hold back during his press conference regarding much-needed changes for the team, “We’re looking to make some changes in our group. I feel very good about the overall organization, where we are, and how competitive we are. But I’m not doing my job if I’m not looking to improve our hockey club on a daily basis, without being dissatisfied.”
If Krug does not re-sign with the Bruins, that will leave a significant amount of cap space left-over, and one of the priorities for the Bruins should be looking for a top-six forward. One soon-to-be unrestricted free agent that the Bruins could undoubtedly benefit from having is Evgenii Dadonov. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons if the Bruins were to acquire Dadonov.
The 5’11, 185-pound forward is a top-six winger that can bring significant secondary scoring for the Bruins. This past season, Dadonov scored 25 goals, marking his third straight 25+ goal campaign (28 goals each of the previous two seasons). Although he is a left-shot, he primarily plays on the right-wing so that would compliment David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk (if the Bruins re-sign him) very well. If the team chooses not to re-sign DeBrusk, it’s a possibility that Dadonov could be slotted onto the left-wing with Ondrej Kase on the right-wing.
Dadonov produced 47 points in 69 games played this past season but has proven to be capable of much more than that. Once he returned to the NHL in 2017-2018 after a five-year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), he contributed 65 points in 74 games. The following season, Dadonov suited up for all 82 games and scored 70 points. There is no doubt he can eclipse 70-80 points if he were to create chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk/Kase.
Dadonov could also contribute on the power-play but hasn’t shown anything special that he would make a significant difference for the Bruins, who have one of the top power-play units in the NHL. This past season, the forward potted 11 power-play goals and 17 power-play points. His main contribution (and an area that the Bruins need significant improvement) will be his offensive ability during 5-on-5 situations.
Also, Dadonov rarely sees time in the penalty box ,and coaches love a player they can utilize on the ice at all times due to strict discipline. In the past three campaigns, the winger has accrued only 26 PIM in 225 games played.
One of the most significant setbacks for Dadonov joining the Bruins is his age and how much money he will demand. The 31-year-old forward is coming off a three-year deal worth $4M AAV. With that being said, Dadonov does not play on the penalty-kill, and his defensive game is sub-par compared to his offensive abilities.
For the Bruins, asking for more than $4M AAV is entirely unrealistic, especially if he is only playing second-line minutes and some on the power-play. With three strong seasons under his belt, Dadonov could easily command more than $4M+ AAV in free agency. Another issue is that if the Bruins keep DeBrusk and Kase, then acquiring Dadonov may not be as crucial. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy could slot him on Charlie Coyles’ line, but $4M+ per season is a lot of money for a third-line winger.
Another critical factor to consider is the lack of playoff experience Dadonov has at the NHL level, and the incredible pressure of playing for the Boston Bruins compared to the Florida Panthers. It’s also important to note that although Dadonov isn’t considered undersized, but he is certainly not the physical forward the Bruins have been searching for (example, the Ritchie brothers).
Overall, Dadonov would be a great offensive option for the Bruins. But with young talent such as; Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka, Trent Fredric, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman looking to make the jump to the NHL, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a vacant spot for Dadonov. The forward certainly checks the boxes as the offensive talent the Bruins are looking to play alongside Krejci.
Despite his offensive abilities, Dadonov is 31-years-old and will most likely command more than $4M AAV in free agency. Unless the Bruins can talk him into a team-friendly deal, I don’t think his offensive abilities alone are worth it for the Bruins to spend that much money. It will be exciting to see what moves Sweeney makes soon. The free-agent market will open at noon EST on October 9th.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.
The Tampa Bay Lightning sent the Boston Bruins home early, leaving all of us wondering what the future will hold. After each team’s playoff exit, conferences are held to detail each player’s injuries and each player’s future. Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are unrestricted free agents and could find themselves in different jerseys come next season.
Naturally, Bruins’s twitter exploded with scenarios and everyone’s thoughts on Boston’s two players’ futures. I created a twitter poll for Bruins fans to give their take on what they want next season.
The first selection of keeping both defensemen seemed to be the prevailing choice, but Krug’s price tag scares Bruins fans. We will dive into each scenario and explain the repercussions that they would have on the team.
Keeping both Chara and Krug would require both players to sacrifice the money they’d make on the open market. Torey Krug reportedly is seeking $8M per-year over a 6-7-year timeframe. The Bruins have $15M in cap space after re-signing Anders Bjork to an extension last month. The Bruins need the remaining cap space to sign restricted free-agents, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk, and unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom.
If the Bruins want a chance to sign most of these players, The Bruins cannot afford Krug’s $8M per year salary. His last deal was worth $5.25M per year, which means he will take no less than $6M per year in his next contract.
Bruins management, mainly General Manager Don Sweeney, has created an environment where his star players make below fair market value because they have bought into a certain mentality. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Berergon have a combined average annual value (“AAV”) of $19.7M, resulting in impeccable signings.
These deals have given Bruins fans skewed visions into players’ values because there is a sense that incoming and roster players shouldn’t make more than their beloved players. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some players, especially given their recent contracts.
Krug will receive at least $7M on the open market, which would put him as the highest salaried defenseman, and tied for second-highest salary on the team, only behind David Krejci. Krug has stated he is open to a hometown discount but doesn’t want to cut himself too short, which is exceptionally reasonable. If the Bruins and Krug can agree on $6.75M over the next five years, both sides would benefit. Krug would increase his AAV by $1.5M, and the Bruins still have enough salary cap to fit in their remaining players.
If the Bruins sign Krug to this deal, they would have $8.25M remaining to re-sign their 14-year captain to another team-friendly deal. Chara has made close to $100M in his 23-year career and is coming off a 1-year, $3.75M deal, with a cap hit of $2M. The rest of the money’s embedded in player bonuses.
The Bruins could re-sign Chara for another 1-year, $1.5M-$2M deal, which would be immense for both sides. The Bruins would be retaining the Hall of Fame defenseman for another year to mentor young defensemen vying for a spot and play on the third pairing and penalty kill situations.
Big Z is getting older and can still be an incredible force on the ice, especially if he plays 18-19 minutes per game. It is time to pass the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but that doesn’t mean Chara should retire. He still adds tremendous value to the organization and can always be a factor game in and game out.
If the Bruins offer Chara this contract and Krug’s discounted deal, they would have approximately $6.5M remaining to re-sign Grzelcyk, Nordstrom, and DeBrusk. $6.5M would be tight to re-sign these players, mostly since DeBrusk’s agent has gone on record saying his client wants $6M per year. The Bruins could offer DeBrusk a bridge deal and Grzelcyk around $2M per year, leaving a little over $1M for Nordstrom. Even this scenario makes their cap situation tight, meaning Sweeney may have to make a few difficult decisions if he wants to retain Krug and Chara.
A few names Andrew did not mention that the Bruins could target in free agency are Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie (both from Calgary), and Tyson Barrie (Toronto Maple Leafs). The latter two have similar cap hits to Krug’s expiring one, while Hamonic would be significantly cheaper.
Krug’s departure would allow the Bruins to develop their young defenseman. Charlie McAvoy and Grzelcyk could round out the top pairing, Carlo and a prospect for the second line, and Chara and Connor Clifton as the third pairing. The Bruins power-play would look a little different next year but wouldn’t suffer much.
Charlie McAvoy is the Bruins number one defenseman for years to come, and he has shown he’s capable of handling power-play one duty. Matt Grzelcyk could take over power-play two responsibilities and is a similar player to Krug. He is not as offensively gifted but makes up for it in other areas.
Krug’s departure would net Don Sweeney, one of the largest cap situations, without signing roster mainstays. It would be too enticing to see what Sweeney would do with the money.
The third selection in the poll, which keeps just Krug, received 14% of the votes, making it the least popular option. In this scenario, the Bruins would be walking away from greatness to develop young defensemen. Chara has stated he wants to retire as a Bruin, and the move would only save about $2M on the books.
The Bruins defensive pairings would be significantly smaller in size. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense created havoc for the Bruins because of their size and strength. The Bruins need both attributes if they want to compete in their division, and the answer is not in John Moore, who could attain a roster spot if Chara walks.
The final selection received 19% of the votes and would result in both defensemen walking. If both Krug and Chara were to play on different teams next year, the Bruins would have a ton of money to use. However, their left-handed defensemen’s depth would suffer, and the Bruins would need to make quick bids to impending free agents.
The free-agent pool has very few left-handed shot defensemen. T.J. Brodie is the only left-handed shot defenseman of the group above. Joel Edmundson of the Carolina Hurricanes is also available, but given the capital, the Hurricanes spent on him, it’s unlikely he leaves Carolina.
The Bruins could also look to the trade market to replace one, if not both. A near-perfect replacement for Krug would be Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. The 25-year old is a left-handed defenseman with a cap hit of $5.2M for the next five years. He’s increased his point total every year since he began in 2015. The Bruins would need to concoct a sweet deal for the Knights to agree by including Jake DeBrusk’s rights and a mid-round draft selection.
Another potential trade target is Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom, who is a former first-round selection. He has a $4.167M cap hit for the next three years and has had an up-and-down career with the Oilers. Granted, the Oilers have had inconsistent years, but Klefbom could benefit from a change in scenery. His career-high point total is 38, and he has power-play experience. The Oilers could ask for DeBrusk’s rights or a sign-and-trade with Krug. Connor McDavid would be quite pleased with either.
If the Bruins can’t strike a deal or sign a free agent, the Bruins would only have John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk as their NHL-ready left-handed shot defensemen. John Moore was scratched most of the playoffs and only played in 24 games this past season. The Bruins have left-handed defensemen in their system, but only one is NHL-ready.
Jakub Zboril is likely heading overseas next season with the AHL’s season in question. Nick Wolff and Jack Ahcan have yet to play in the AHL, which making them unlikely candidates for the NHL roster. Urho Vaakanainen is the final left-handed shot defensemen in the system. The 21-year old Finn was drafted 18th overall in 2017. He’s played seven games in two years for the Bruins, spending most of his time in Providence. Black N Gold’s writer, Tim Richardson, detailed Urho’s past season in the AHL. Tim regards Urho as “an elite stay-at-home defenseman” who should have a spot on the Bruins roster quite soon.
Don Sweeney has addressed the Krug situation but is unwilling to comment on the details.
It’s normal business practice to hold off on contract negotiations until the season is over. Though, it’s a bit concerning because Sweeney isn’t speaking like a man who is confident the player will stay. It’s possible the Bruins and Krug can strike a deal soon, but Krug would almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season if he tests free agency. Bruins management may have told Krug he can see his worth and come back to them to see for the Bruins to potentially match an offer.
Allowing the two defensemen to leave is the worst choice in the poll. The Bruins don’t seem to have a plausible plan in place for the two key departures, and it opens the doors to a “wait and see” approach. There would be too many items in play with this choice, and there’s not enough time given the prolonged playoffs.
Before the poll, the most logical choice was keeping Chara and Krug. The Bruins could have another go with the aging core. Now that the survey has ended, it seems each day the Bruins are heading towards keeping just Chara. Sweeney has acknowledged the Bruins lacked five v five scoring against Tampa Bay, which isn’t all on the defensemen. The forwards are just as much to blame, but Sweeney could use the cap space with Krug’s departure to acquire a goal-scorer. NHL teams are allowed to make trades with one another if they’re not currently in the playoffs, and the free agency period is a month away. It seems Sweeney is willing to make a deal even if it changes the makeup of the team.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher
The National Hockey Leagues’ free-agent market is scheduled to open on October 9th at noon ET, or at least seven days after finishing the Stanley Cup Finals, whichever happens first. The Boston Bruins’ General Manager Don Sweeney, has his work cut out for him this off-season, and his most significant task is deciding on re-signing Torey Krug, or let him walk and use that extra cap space on other free agents.
According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins have roughly $15M available in cap space, but Sweeney may want to leave around $2M-$3M leftover if injuries occur. With that being said, the Bruins will have approximately $13M available for re-signing players like Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Matt Grzelcyk.
Krug spoke to media recently and stated he is not interested in a one-year deal and wants to cash in on his value by signing a long-term contract. I predict the Bruins have a chance to sign Krug to a 5+year deal worth $7M-$7.5M per year, but the defenseman knows his value is worth more than that. If Krug doesn’t believe what the Bruins offer (if they even do) is enough, he will walk and get anywhere between $8M-$9.5M per year from another team.
As of this moment, there are a plethora amount of UFA and RFA players the Bruins could look at, many big names and even more depth-pieces. I’m not sure if Sweeney is looking to continue building by adding a few depth-pieces or make a big signing whether it be a forward or defenseman to replace Krug. For a complete list of all 31 teams’ UFA and RFA players, Sporting News has it covered here. Here are some free-agent options for the Bruins if Krug decides to walk.
Evgenii Dadonov has shined the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. Over the past three years, Dadonov has played 225 games, contributing 81-101-182 numbers, 25 power-play goals, and 47 power-play points.
The 31-year-old forward is set to become a UFA, and his last contract was a three-year deal worth $4M per season. I’m not an expert on predicting a player’s value in terms of AAV (average annual value), but the Bruins could make an offer worth $5M-$5.5M per season. Although he may be worth more in the open market, I do not see the Bruins over-spending on any player.
The Bruins could use Dadonov on the power-play and David Krejci’s’ or Charlie Coyles’ right-wing. Ondrej Kase began to create solid chemistry with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk during the Carolina Hurricanes series. Still, he is often injured and, before arriving in Boston, had only played a career-high 66 games back in 2017-2018. DeBrusk has also shown many potentials but has not shown consistency in his offense, so a player like Dadonov could help spark any of those lines.
Mark Borowiecki (D/UFA)
Mark Borowiecki could be a reasonable defensive option for the Bruins. If Krug decides to leave, I imagine Grzelcyk will pair with Brandon Carlo and split power-play duties with Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins’ third defensive-pairing isn’t solidified, but Borowiecki could be an option to consider along with Connor Clifton, John Moore, or Jeremy Lauzon. His last contract was a two-year deal worth $1.2M AAV, so he would not be a massive cap casualty to the Bruins.
The 6’1, 207-pound defenseman plays a very physical brand of hockey and isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. These are player attributes Sweeney has been looking for and was hoping Brett or Nick Ritchie could be that player, but they have not worked out so far.
Borowiecki also had offensive career-highs this past season, scoring seven goals and 18 points in 53 games played. He also averages over 200 hits per season, and just last season had a career-high 120 blocks. I believe he is a reliable option for the Bruins if Sweeney deems it necessary to sign additional depth defensemen.
Conor Sheary (F/UFA)
Conor Sheary would be a reliable forward option that could spark the bottom-six. The Winchester, MA native, first suited up in the NHL for 44 games during the 2015-2016 season and contributed enough to help lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to capture the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. He also eclipsed his career-highs during the 2016-2017 season, scoring 23 goals and 50 points with a +24 rating.
The 5’8, 175-pound forward has a lot of speed to his game and could fit in well with either Coyle or Kuraly. Sheary just finished a three-year deal worth $3M AAV and is set to become a UFA.
$3M+ per year is most likely too steep for the Bruins, especially for a bottom-six forward, but he can also be utilized on the second line with Krejci in case DeBrusk doesn’t stay consistent. After achieving 20+goals just a few seasons ago, Sheary has shown the potential to be a productive middle-six/bottom-six forward.
Vladislav Namestnikov (F/UFA)
Vladislav Namestnikov is another forward the Bruins could consider in the free-agency. The 27-year-old forward is trying to find his offensive consistency and a team to grow with long-term. This past season, Namestinikov suited up for three different teams (NYR, OTT, COL), playing 65 games and contributing 17 goals and 31 points.
Namestnikov ended the season with the Colorado Avalanche and is set to become a UFA. He is finishing up a two-year deal worth $4M AAV. For a forward who has yet to hit the 50 point mark in his career, anywhere near $4M AAV is well out of the Bruins price range. If Sweeney could get Namestnikov to take a reasonable discount on a prove-yourself contract, we could see Namestnikov possibly reach his full potential.
Not only could Namestnikov be slotted onto any of the Bruins’ lines, but the team can also use him on the power-play and the penalty-kill unit. This past season, he also led the league in short-handed goals (four).
Brenden Dillon (D/UFA)
Last but not least, if Krug does not re-sign with the Bruins, Brenden Dillon would be a reliable option to beef up the blue-line. The 6’4, 225-pound defenseman uses his size to his advantage and makes it very difficult to play against, especially in a playoff series. Dillon was traded to the Washington Capitals shortly before the 2019-2020 season paused, but is now set to become a UFA. His last contract was a five-year deal worth $3.27M AAV.
Dillon suited up for 69 games this past season, contributing 14 points, 74 blocks, and 194 hits. Before the trade deadline this past season, the Bruins were linked to having considerable interest in Dillon, so now that he is set to hit the open market, Sweeney will have his chance once again.
It’s important to note that Dillon is 29-years-old and may be looking to cash in on his value at full. Sweeney may not be keen on paying more than $3M+ per season but could use the winning culture argument to sign Dillon on a discount.
Overall, there are a plethora of options the Bruins could consider. There are also a lot of players who are RFAs that may not sign with their current team, giving the Bruins even more options. I also predict Sweeney will be attempting to make trades during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With that being said, the Bruins’ future is up in the air, but that is not necessarily a negative thing. I’m very excited to see what Sweeneys’ plan is to improve this team.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher
Bruins fans have long clamored for Krejci to be dealt. “He’s overpaid” and “he can’t work with any linemate” are the common phrases used in Boston. However, this is far from the truth. Krejci is a critical part of the Bruins past and part of the future for at least the next year.
David Krejci, being overpaid is a myth like those of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. The truth of the matter is that Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pasternak are criminally underpaid. Bergeron 6.875 million, Marchand 6.125 million, and David Pastrnak 6.666 million that’s the salaries of our top line in Boston.
It equals out to just over 19.666 million compared to Toronto’s top three forwards that ring out at a whopping 33.527 million. Krejci is paid 3.642 million less than the least paid top three forwards of Toronto, Mitchell Marner. Krejci comes in with a cap hit of 7.250 million, which is a bargain for “playoff Krejci” which is the next myth I’ll tackle.
Kevin Hayes’ cap hit is just above 7.142 million, and he is not quite the player Krejci is at this point in time. Krejci had 43 points to Hayes’s 34 in nine fewer games and 12 points to Hayes’s 13 in three fewer games. Krejci is a superior player to Hayes in both the postseason and the regular season.
Still, people want to see Krejci moved because the front office has been unable to find Krejci a wing on his right side to compliment him and Jake DeBrusk. Time is running out as Krejci enters into the final year of his contract. We know the narrative of “Playoff Krejci.” Once again, that is just another myth.
The 34-year old Krejci averaged .79 points per game in his playoff career and .75 points per game in the regular season in his career. He doesn’t come out of nowhere in the playoffs. Krejci is a critical part of how the Bruins can grab a high seed and get into the playoffs to begin with. Krejci has been an essential part of the Bruins core since the 2008-2009 season, where he put up a career-high 73 points and never looked back. This man has aged like a fine wine. He matched that same point total again in the 2018-2019 season.
Ondrej Kase looked good on Krejci’s right side even though he wasn’t able to finish. Maybe it’s time to look at the left side as the problem because the problem is not Krejci, the playmaking center who has racked up 141 assists in his last four seasons. Jake DeBrusk’s contract is up, and there are possibly wings available on the trade market.
Brock Boeser right-wing and Nikolaj Ehlers left-wing are two players I would target to maximize what could be our last year of Krejci. Vancouver is looking to clear cap space with Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, both needing new deals in the near future. To land Boeser, it would take a package like Debrusk, their choice of Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, or Urho Vaakanainen, and a second-round draft pick. Mike Cratty wrote a great piece that included what it would take to get Ehlers.
The Boston Bruins owe it to David Krejci, who was the best Bruins player this playoff season, some help to create secondary scoring; and, possibly one final shot at the cup in a Bruins sweater. Next season Chara will almost certainly hang up the skates. Tuukka Rask could be following him out the door soon after that. Boston owes it to Krejci, one of the best playoff performers in Bruins history; Chara, the greatest leader in Bruins history; and Rask, the greatest goaltender in Bruins history. The Bruins need to kick it into win-now mode next season.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced on Sunday night that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Dan Vladar on a three-year contract extension with an annual cap hit of $750,000. The deal is a two-way contract for the first two seasons, with the third being a one-way contract.
In 25 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, this season, Vladar led the league in save percentage (.936) and goals-against average (GAA) with a 1.79 marker. On the year, the 23-year-old posted a 14-7-1 record, including three shutouts.
In 68 games with the P-Bruins over four seasons, the Prague, Czech Republic native holds a 33-26-3 record to go along with a 2.35 GAA and .916 save percentage. In 60 games with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate over three seasons, Vladar posted a .902 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA.
The Bruins selected Vladar with the 75th overall pick in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. With the departure of Tuukka Rask from the NHL’s Return to Play due to a reported family emergency, Vladar is currently serving as backup to Boston netminder Jaroslav Halak.
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The Bruins are going to have a biiiiig decision this offseason when dealing with upcoming UFA Torey Krug. Now that there’s a flat cap for the next couple years, Don Sweeney and co will have their work cut out for them. Personally, I think the Bs need to resign Krug, his departure would leave a big hole at the left side and on the powerplay. But what if, for whatever reason, Torey Krug and the Bruins don’t find common ground and he walks? I’ll go through a couple options that the Bruins can do.
The Bruins are projected to have a tad under $18 million in cap space. They have options on what kind of contracts to give to guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelcyk; they may choose to save cap now and sign their younger players to bridge-like deals or choose to give out longer deals. With a Krug contract likely taking up around $6.5-7 million in cap per season, the Bruins would have around $11 million to work with to sign Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork, Jake Debrusk and Joakim Nordstrom (who is likely gone). It will be a hard task regardless of what Sweeney decides to do.
Option 1: Fix the problem internally
If Krug says goodbye to Boston, there will certainly be a missing presence at defense. But one thing’s for sure, the Bruins have a plethora of guys in Providence and Boston ready to fill the void. One player that would have a far bigger role with Krug’s departure would be Matt Grzelcyk. He would likely take over powerplay duties and with the success he’s had when featured on the 1st PP unit, I don’t think the Bruins will be too upset.
Chara will likely be around again next year, leaving one more spot on the left side. The contenders for that spot would be: Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore and Jeremy Lauzon, with the latter two able to play the right side as well. Zboril is an interesting case. In most other organizations, he’d likely be an everyday NHLer right now, but with the Bruins depth at the back end, he’s spent most of his professional career in Providence. He’s eligible to be claimed on waivers starting next year, so it’s a sink or swim situation for the Czechman.
Urho Vaakanainen is still just 21-years-old and has loads of potential. He’d certainly be up to the task of becoming an everyday dman but if it doesn’t seem like he’s ready, the Bs can still send him to Providence to eat a ton of icetime up. Jeremy Lauzon has been really good since getting called up to Boston. The big, physical defenseman has played both sides and has been a solid presence to have on the bottom pair. I can’t see him not retaining some sort of role on the blue line next year. And finally John Moore, who has always been a good bottom pairing guy for the Bs. With the low cap, Moore’s days in Boston may be numbered, but if he stays a Bruin, he’ll be a solid, mobile dman for them.
If the Bruins decide to go in house with their team next year, that would allow them to sign guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to longer term deals rather than bridge deals. Instead of giving them contracts around 2×4.5 and 2×2.5 respectively, they could look to go for deals around 6×6 and 5×4 to set up the team in a better long term position.
Option 2: Fix the defense internally, use the money to acquire another forward.
Instead of the money being allocated to longer deals for Gryz and Debrusk, the Bruins could use the hypothetical $7 million from Krug and go out and sign a big time forward. There’s a solid crop of UFAs to hit the open market that would look great wearing the spoked-B. I’m not too sure the Bruins have the real estate to pull off a big signing like Taylor Hall, but there are plenty of B+ players the Bruins could go after.
There are a couple of forwards (who can play both wings) coming out of Florida who would fit very well to the side of David Krejci. Those two names being Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Hoffman has spent his entire career in the Atlantic division and hasn’t scored under 22 goals and 56 points since the 2014-15 season (where he had 27 goals and 48 points). He’s a creative player a lot of skill and a great release. With a playmaker like Krejci and speedy winger like Jake Debrusk, it would be hard to think of him not putting up 30 goals and 60 points.
Dadonov is another skilled winger and is coming off of a big 70 point season. He’s been a great possession player since returning to the NHL, averaging a 52.5 Corsi% in three seasons. Something that may get overlooked are the players Dadonov had success with in Florida. He’s used to a center that likes to slow the game down (Alexsander Barkov) and playing with a similar player in Krejci could prove to be beneficial for both players.
And then there’s a player who’s been linked to Boston for years, Tyler Toffoli. He’s always been a player who can play anywhere in the top nine, and always performs in the playoffs. After watching him succeed in Vancouver this year, there’s clearly not an issue of fitting a new system. I’d think Toffoli would be a bit cheaper than the previous two options, and money is everything these days.
Guys like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Derick Brassard are some others the Bruins could choose to buy low on. Granlund had many great seasons in Minnesota but hasn’t looked the same in Nashville. Haula erupted in Vegas but hasn’t been quite as good after his gruesome injury last year. Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world and I would be really interested how he’d fare in a system like the Bruins, with leaders like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Brassard could slot in a lot of places and with his playoff track record, could be really solid. To end this off, just take a look at this hypothetical disguuuusting lineup.
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Debrusk – Krejci – Hoffman/Dadonov/Toffoli
Bjork – Coyle – Kase
Ritchie – Kuraly – Wagner
Option 3: Sign a replacement defenseman
The market for defensemen isn’t flowing with crazy talent, but there are a lot of solid pieces in free agency. If the Bs can’t sign Krug, they likely wouldn’t be able to go after Tyson Barrie either. He’d probably have a cap hit a bit under Krug’s, but with how good the Bruin’s right side is, wouldn’t make much sense regardless of his cap hit. But there are two targets that would likely come in at a decent cap number if they hit the open market.
Those two are a pair of Calgary Flames dmen by the names of Erik Gustafsson and T.J. Brodie. Gustafsson had an excellent 2018 campaign. He broke out with a 60 point season and actually had more even strength assists than Krug. After a down season this year, it would certainly be more of a gamble but I can’t see his cap hit getting too high. A one-two year deal around $4 million could be a good, prove it contract for both sides.
T.J. Brodie has had a couple really solid years in a row. He’s averaged over 30 points, a +20 rating and right around a 54.2% Corsi, despite not having a big role in the Flames powerplay. He’s more reliable than Gustafsson and if Grzelcyk or McAvoy can take over powerplay duties from Krug, the Bs would still have a great defensive core.
Obviously trades can also happen. If the Bruins sign a forward, they could trade one of their middle-six guys, maybe for a defenseman, maybe for a draft pick, who knows. But at the end of the day, Krug or no Krug, the Bruins will still be a competitive team next year. I just hope he’s a part of their success.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
To say that this year so far has been tough would be an understatement, however, things are starting to slowly return. The general public (for the most part) are being careful, being mindful, and some are heading back to work. How this virus has affected almost every aspect of regular life has been overwhelming to say the least. While things screeched to a halt in the world of sports, a glimmer of hope arose when it was announced that the NHL and NHLPA ratified a four-year extension to the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and more excitedly a Return to Play Plan. That’s right folks…hockey’s back.
KEEPING IT REAL
While there has been multiple discussions on the well-being of players, testing, and imposing restrictions while in the hub cities, the fact that the NHL is returning brings about a start of normalcy when it comes to sports. For some, its a welcome distraction. For the Boston Bruins, it’ll be a chance to finish what they started.
For the team, returning to the ice will keep things in perceptive. Fans were treated to the first pictures of returning familiar faces during the start of voluntary workouts a few weeks ago. And as much as it was a great step forward, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still lurks in the minds of the players:
” I think its a very serious matter. As much as we do want to play, we realize that there are more important things in life, and you have to make sure that other things fall into place first…you watch the news and see how serious this whole situation is…I think the league and the team are taking all the right measures to have players stay as healthy as possible, and staff coming to the rink, keeping them in mind”
Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk
The players are practicing carefully, skating in small groups as they continue to adhere to protocols set in place by the league. As they shake out the rust (they haven’t played since March) the team, according to Bruins President Cam Neely are ready to move forward:
“I think our guys recognize that we had a legitimate chance to do well and have a deep run in the playoffs…our goal all along is to win the Stanley Cup. That goal is not going to change. From what I understand, talking to some of the guys, they’re anxious and excited.”
BACK IN THE SADDLE
As most of the team returns to Boston, adjusting back to the physical and mental part of the game will be amongst the hurdles to overcome. While many were able to get in some workouts to stay in shape, skating wasn’t an option as restrictions forced rinks to stay closed. Not knowing when or if the season would return also effected every team in the league. As Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom recently said:
“What I can do is trust that our team, the Boston Bruins, and the NHLPA and the league and all the doctors are taking all the precautions and making sure that we’re gonna be safe as possible.”
The Bruins concluded the second phase of voluntary workouts at Warrior Ice that saw Brandon Carlo, Andres Bjork, Connor Clifton, Jake Debrusk, David Krecji, Karson Kuhlman, Joakim Nordstrom, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senyshyn and Max Lagace lace their skates up. Training Camp is set to start on Monday, July 13th and will see the Bruins head north of border into Toronto towards the end of this month.
After having a few months to rest and recharge, the Boston Bruins are hoping to be back in winning form as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in their first Round-Robin game. At the abrupt conclusion of the season in their last game, Boston defeated Philly 2-0. Getting back to work amidst the unknowns will be challenging, as Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy remarked:
“The message for us hasn’t changed in terms of what our ultimate goal is, our unfinished business is to be Stanley Cup champions…but inside of that message will be a lot of the unknowns and how we have to be prepared to deal with that as it comes at us, which can difficult because we don’t know how its gonna work out for players’ families yet..the mental toughness part is gonna determine who ends up raising that trophy at the end of the day. That’s where I like our chances.”
While other sports leagues have had key players opt out of playing due to safety concerns, the team as a whole are ready get back on the ice. With the very recent announcement of the roster that’s heading to Toronto, the Bruins will continue to adhere to strict protocols. The league has worked hard in reaching an agreement while addressing the risks of the virus. Daily testing will be the new normal for every team living in the secure “bubble” as well as temperature and symptoms checks.
This year will certainly be one for the history books and while so many in this country continue to work through daily life cautiously, seeing the boys back in Black and Gold will feel pretty damn nice.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!
Since the NHL released its Return to Play schedule, the NHL community has been buzzing with news and rumors. The latest news comes from NBC Boston Sportswriter, Joe Haggerty.
If Jake DeBrusk “is a $6 million a year player” as some like @Bob_Stauffer have suggested, then the Bruins might be in salary cap jeopardy…particularly after DeBrusk’s agent suggested today that a Black and Gold hometown discount wasnt in the plans 🏒🏆💰https://t.co/wdSlyIxx2Q
On NBC Sports Boston Zoom Call, Bob Stauffer announced his thoughts on Jake DeBrusk’s worth in the upcoming contract negotiations. Bob Stauffer is an Edmonton Oilers radio analyst who has spent over 10 years calling hockey games in Alberta, so he knows his hockey. Stauffer thinks Debrusk is “a $6 million a year player,” which, if that’s true, the Bruins have an extremely tough roster and cap decision to make.
DeBrusk’s contract ends at the same time as Torey Krug’s deal, which is this coming off-season. We wrote about Krug’s next probable contract, which is the area of $7-8M per year. It had been reported back in March that Krug was seeking a 6-year, $49M contract, which is $8.2M per year. To Bruins fans liking, Krug did mention he was open to a hometown discount, which could benefit the Bruins cap situation immensely.
DeBrusk’s agent, however, did not seem to be on the same page as Torey. Bob Stauffer and Jake DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, spoke on Stauffer’s radio show on Monday. Stauffer mentioned the Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak deals with Valette to get the agent to convey his Jake’s willingness to take a hometown discount. Valette wouldn’t bite on the hometown discount comment and understandably so. Valette needs to have his clients’ best interests in mind and cannot be coming to the negotiating table showing his hand that they’ll take a hometown discount. There’s a difference between being open to one and openly expressing taking one.
Rick Valette didn’t shut the door on it but definitely didn’t hint towards one. He explains DeBrusk’s accomplishments through his “big-game playoff performances” and “being a top-six forward almost from the moment he stepped in the National Hockey League.”
DeBrusk was one of the three 2015 first-round draft picks when Don Sweeney made two swift trades leading up to the draft. DeBrusk was selected with the Bruins’ own draft pick at 14th overall out of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in Canada. He potted 185 points in 205 games in the WHL and stepped into Providence for another exciting year. He scored 49 points with the Providence Bruins, showing Bruins management he was ready for the NHL spotlight.
DeBrusk had a fruitful rookie season, scoring 16 goals and adding 27 assists. He followed up his rookie regular-season with 6 goals and 2 assists in the ensuing playoffs. Bruins fans salivated at his tenacity, willingness to battle in the corners, and his clutch goals.
DeBrusk entered last season with that same drive, scoring a career-high 27 goals. Any NHL forward who scores 30 goals is widely celebrated, and DeBrusk was three away from that feat. He ended the year with 42 points, looking to continue his fiery playoff game-play. However, DeBrusk was close to a no-show in the 2018-19 playoffs. He scored four goals and seven assists in 24 playoff games. He only surpassed his previous playoff total by two points but played in 12 more games.
DeBrusk has definitely scored timely and much-needed goals in the playoffs, making his “big-game playoff performance” claim fine. But what about the other games? DeBrusk ended the shortened season with 35 points, which he was on pace to net 44 points in all 82 games. 44 points would become his career-high, but scoring 27 goals the year before, Bruins fans thought Jake would smash his career total and easily eclipse 50 points.
He has spent most of his career with David Krejci, who has been longing for a left-winger who isn’t afraid to grind in the corners. Before the season ended, DeBrusk was spending some of his ice time with Charlie Coyle on the third line. Coyle seemed to give DeBrusk the spark we all know he has, and it’s likely Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, places DeBrusk on Coyle’s left to begin the playoffs.
Debrusk is playing the last of his 3-year, $4.05M deal and will become a restricted free agent. He is not eligible to enter the open market and is not arbitration-eligible, leaving him entirely under the Bruins control, to an extent. Restricted free-agents are still under their teams’ command and can only be plucked by another team through an offer sheet. General Managers have strayed from offer sheets because they’re afraid another team will steal one of their players in the same process.
Debrusk also doesn’t have arbitration rights, which is a contract negotiation that uses a third party arbitrator to determine a fair contract term and length for a restricted free-agent. Jake’s options to negotiate are limited, hence his agent’s demeanor leading up to the off-season. He can holdout for a better deal, which is the route William Nylander took in 2019. However, if DeBrusk holds out into the next calendar year, he is ineligible to play in the current season.
His presence will be missed if he chooses the holdout route, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. If DeBrusk comes to the negotiating table with a 6-year, $42M offer, either Krug or DeBrusk will likely be wearing a new jersey next season. The Bruins are in an excellent position to give DeBrusk a bridge deal, which is a “show your worth” type of agreement that Torey Krug took back in 2015. Krug signed for a 1-year, $3.4M deal, which clearly has worked out well for him.
Debrusk’s bridge deal would be in the neighborhood of 2-years, $8M, which would pay him $4M a year. It is certainly is a much lower price point than his agent is touting him to be, but it could help both sides at the end of the day. The Bruins have $19.6M in cap space next off-season and still need to sign Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Anders Bjork, and Matt Grzelcyk.
The $4M per year deal is by no means a low ball offer either. DeBrusk has plenty of comparables to reference for that contract offer.
DeBrusk’s point per game is certainly on the high-end of the comparables, and a few players have been in the league longer than DeBrusk, so he carries a higher weighted average. He’s also been compared to Travis Konecny in Philadelphia. Konecny signed a 6-year, $33M deal immediately following his rookie contract. At the time of the signing, Konecny had scored 24 goals in two consecutive years and followed it up with 61 points in 66 games in the shortened season. The Flyers skipped the bridge deal and went full throttle, risking what Konecny’s ceiling was. Thankfully for the Flyers, he has rewarded them.
If you were to ask the Bruins what they’d ideally like to do, they would probably choose to take the Konecny route with DeBrusk. However, their cap situation does not allow that. If the Bruins signed Krug and DeBrusk to their reported offers, the Bruins would be left with $5.6M to sign Grzelcyk, Chara, and Bjork. This would be nearly impossible, and someone wouldn’t be wearing the spoked-B next season.
Now, if the Bruins can negotiate successfully and sign both Debrusk and Krug at $4M and $7M, respectively, they’ll have $8.6M leftover. Sweeney has shown his ability to make a roster complete with limited funds. Last season, he had Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo without deals and $7.3M leftover in space.
DeBrusk taking a bridge deal, would help both him and the Bruins in the long-run. DeBrusk would be setting himself up for an even bigger pay-day once the bridge deal is over if he performs well enough. Additionally, Bruins will (hopefully) have more cap space in two years to fund DeBrusk’s ceiling.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!