Friday, May 29, 2009

Boston Salary Cap Situation - 2 K's Against Them

Here's a Google Document on the Bruins' salary cap situation for the upcoming two seasons. All estimates about RFA salaries are in green. All players UFA as of July 1, 2009 are not assumed to be on the Bruins. All players UFA on July 1, 2010 are denoted by a red field. It is assumed that the Bonus Cushion will be in place according to Article 50.5.h.iii.A of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and thus all salaries here are listed without bonuses.

Assuming next season's salary cap to be at 56 million (not a foregone conclusion), the Bruins can afford to re-add Axelsson, as well as augment their defense with depth. However, in 2010-11, the Bruins are racing towards an iceberg with the salary cap set to drop to around 52 million. GM Peter Chiarelli already anticipated said iceberg with the dealing of Petteri Nokalainen - but they will likely need to find a new home for Patrice Bergeron or Marco Sturm. This will not be easy - Bergeron's concussion troubles and complete lack of goal scoring make his contract a large gamble in lean times, and Marco Sturm spent the season on injured reserve. Let us look at the lines of this team and see what might fall out:

2009-10 Projected Bruins' Lines

This indicates a player who is RFA in 2008-09
This indicates a player who is UFA in 2009-10
This indicates a player who is RFA in 2009-10




Why The Bruins Are Awesome: Their third line could very easily be another team's second line. Of course, it is also paid like a team's second line as well, hence the impending salary cap problem. While the team traded Nokalainen to slough off excess depth, it also traded RW Martins Karsums at the trade deadline, a promising high-energy RW. Regardless, Mikko Lehtonen scored 28 goals in his rookie season at Providence and has to be assumed close to NHL ready - he may get that remaining spot on the fourth line, and if anyone is traded, he is likely to make the NHL squad. Tim Thomas is overpaid, but he was the best goaltender in the league last season.

Why The Bruins Might Not Be So Awesome: The Bruins' top nine forwards plus Mark Recchi shot an astounding 13.5% cumulatively - and that is including Patrice Bergeron and P.J. Axelsson's combined 6% shooting. Marc Savard and David Krejci have to be considered responsible for that - but can it be sustained next season? Don't be surprised if the Bruins go from tremendous to merely division champions in 2009-10.

Where The Bruins Need Help: Another top four defenseman would be nice. If they do manage to deal Sturm or Bergeron, they can add any number of defensemen with expiring contracts at the trade deadline. The Bruins also need a backup goalie that can handle 25 or so games - Manny Fernandez, Craig Anderson, Scott Clemmensen, or Antero Niitymaki (or really anyone else) can suffice, for around a million dollars a season.

Final Thoughts: The Bruins are not in a great spot with respect to the salary cap but that is because they are such a formidable, young team. There's trouble coming in 2010-11, but that's true for just about every team, and if it means getting rid of a Blake Wheeler for draft picks or prospects, so be it; the Bruins have many of their best players signed long-term and the rest are several years away from UFA age. As a result, the Bruins should be near the top of the Eastern Conference for several seasons to come.

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