For a team just a few years removed from a Stanley Cup and really only one season removed from being a titan in the Eastern Conference, there sure is a lot of chaos surrounding the Boston Bruins right now.
And chaos is not always a bad thing, though new GM Don Sweeney certainly won’t have the luxury of easing into his position.
Simply put, the Bruins are strangled by the salary cap right now. They have about $11 million in space, once you put Marc Savard back on long-term injury reserve (his cap hit is $4 million until 2017). But the list of needs for the team is long.
First and foremost, you have rising defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who needs a new contract now that his rookie deal has expired. Hamilton had a breakout season for the B’s and based on his size and skill set, he’ll be crucial to the Boston defense corps for years to come, particularly since the franchise already lost Johnny Boychuk and will have to deal with Zdeno Chara entering the twilight of his career.
From what I’m hearing, Hamilton’s contract could go a number of ways. Boston can sign him for up to eight years and in that scenario, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get something similar to what Drew Doughty got from Los Angeles when he came off his rookie deal (eight years, $7 million per).
High praise comparing Dougie to Dewey, I know, but Hamilton was an advanced stats monster for the Bruins this year and his 40 points mirrored Doughty’s totals in the last year of the Kings blueliner’s rookie deal.
The other way to go is a shorter pact, such as the one P.K. Subban signed in Montreal – a “bridge deal,” as it is known. Subban, who became exactly what we all thought he would become, got paid even larger once he came off that bridge deal and now makes $9 million per campaign. But his bridge deal was a more-than-reasonable $5.7 million spread over two years.
If Sweeney can get Hamilton under contract for that, I’m sure he will be over the moon. Because the future is a lot more bright for the Bruins than the present, financially speaking. On top of Hamilton, the B’s need at least one more NHL defenseman for next season, even if they skew younger. It sounds like Adam McQuaid will walk as a free agent, unless big moves happen this weekend.
The most talked-about in that scenario is Milan Lucic, who reportedly has given the Bruins a list of teams he would accept trades to. Lucic has a $6 million cap hit and though Boston loves the guy, that would certainly solve a lot of problems.
One player I don’t see a problem with is center Ryan Spooner. Like Hamilton, he needs a new pact coming off his rookie deal, but I’ve been told that things are moving smoothly on that front. If anything, Spooner could help the Bruins by signing a reasonable deal and building off the succcess he had in 29 NHL games this season.
Oh, and the Bruins need a backup goalie for Tuukka Rask. Will it be one of the kids, such as Zane McIntyre or Malcolm Subban? That would work for me, though reps are important at their age and the AHL might be better for them than sitting on the bench for 60 games.
Overall, things are far from settled in Boston and the Bruins will be the most intriguing team to watch in the next 48 hours and beyond.