Many things could be said about the Boston Bruins’ disappointing end to the season, be it the Stanley Cup hangover, bad luck running into a hot Washington Capitals team, or injuries to key players throughout the season that stunted what could have been the best team in the NHL at 100%. Whatever the case, Boston has to shake off this season and look ahead to a future involving cap crunching, salary headaches, and the almost inevitable trade of one ultra conservative Vezina-winning goaltender. The Bruins have a long to-do list, and it starts with Chris Kelly.
Kelly is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and both parties have expressed a desire to keep the veteran forward in black and yellow. "He's a good, versatile player who had a career year," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. "He's a veteran who won a Cup. That's hard to replace. He's told me he wants to stay." Kelly, who’s coming off a four-year $8.5 million contract and statistically the best year of his career (20 goals, 19 assists), will likely demand a more lucrative contract than before. The Toronto native played a big role in the Bruins’ Cup run of 2011, netting 5 goals and 8 assists while also proving to be a clutch performer. The B’s don’t want to overpay Kelly, but he’s a solid center and all-around player that is entering the prime of his career.
The other notable free agents hitting the market for Boston are Brian Rolston, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, who are all UFAs, and Benoit Pouliot and Tuuka Rask, who are RFAs. At Rolston’s age (35) and previous contract, he’s gone. Campbell, Mottau and Pouliot will likely be brought back for reasonably low cap hits.
The biggest area to address for the Bruins, however, is between the pipes. Tuukka Rask is 25 and entering the prime of his career. He’s shown he’s ready to assume the role as the primary goaltender (.929 SV% and 2.05 GAA in 23 starts) and will almost certainly be signed by Boston to a long-term deal. That leaves Tim Thomas as the figurative elephant (har har) in the room. Thomas is 38 years old and is due to make $5 million next season. That’s a lot of cap hit for an aging goalie who can’t play more than 55 games, particularly when the team doesn’t have much cap space to work with. As such, the Bruins will likely look to trade Thomas for a pick or two and a young goal scoring prospect to stash in the AHL for a few years. Some possible suitors could be the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, or even the Tampa Bay Lightning, who might want to give it one more go with Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier. Despite his age, the demand for a recent Vezina, Conn Smythe, and Stanley Cup winning goaltender is certainly there, and many teams would love to add Tim Thomas to their roster.
In the free agent market the Bruins will likely pursue another pure goal scorer, especially if Marc Savard stays on long-term IR (which reports indicate he will). If Savard doesn’t play next year his $4 million cap hit is off the books, giving the B’s some more room to maneuver on the free agent market, or to possibly extend players due to be free agents in 2013. If Thomas’ $5 million is jettisoned as well, that gives the Bruins the option to pursue one of the pure snipers due to hit the market like Alexander Semin instead of resigning most of their own UFAs.
The Bruins still have a strong core of players to build around. A few pieces replaced and added and they’ll be back in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s trophy.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
May 16th, 2013 12:13 PM
May 14th, 2013 1:28 AM
May 16th, 2013 9:45 AM
ALL TIME FAVES
April 16th, 2013 12:15 PM
April 9th, 2013 11:57 AM
March 1st, 2013 8:37 AM