Taking Advantage of Cap Hell: Boston Bruins Edition

Peter Chiarelli

This is going to be a difficult summer for many teams thanks to a salary cap which has risen by less than expected early in the year. For a team like the Edmonton Oilers, there’s a chance to land talent from a team in cap trouble.

Taking Advantage of Cap Hell is dedicated to looking at clubs reportedly in cap trouble and figuring out who might shake loose. We start with Peter Chiarelli’s old haunt: the Boston Bruins.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Depth Chart

We don’t know yet how Boston will address the various holes created by free agency and expiring contracts, so my projection sees the bottom end of the roster populated by relatively cheap players, either re-signed RFA’s who spent part of last year in the minors or veteran NHL depth guys on low-cost deals. It’s a way of populating the roster without assuming any big name additions.

What does Boston’s cap situation look like under these conditions?

Left Wing Centre Right Wing L. Defence / Goal R. Defence / Goal
Milan Lucic David Krejci David Pastrnak Zdeno Chara Dougie Hamilton
6,000,000 7,250,000 925,000 6,917,000 RFA
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Reilly Smith Torey Krug Dennis Seidenberg
4,500,000 6,500,000 3,425,000 3,400,000 4,000,000
Chris Kelly Ryan Spooner Loui Eriksson Joe Morrow Kevan Millar
3,000,000 RFA 4,250,000 RFA 800,000
Max Talbot Yuro Friagent Brett Connolly Zach Trotman  
875,000 900,000 RFA 625,000  
Imin Theneychel Rand Umplug   Tuukka Rask Goalie McBackup
800,000 800,000   7,000,000 900,000

Those numbers could be driven higher, if Boston spends a little more money finding Yuro Friagent and Rand Umplug, or opts to run Malcolm Subban instead of Goalie McBackup. This projection by design assumes some cost conscious additions to the team. It could also come in a little lower if, for example, Justin Florek takes a one-year, one-way deal at the NHL minimum in place of Imin Theneychel.

The Bruins have four significant RFA’s of note: Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Spooner, Brett Connolly and Joe Morrow (NHL Numbers lists another year on Morrow’s deal, but as I figure it he’s burned through his entry-level contract at this point). 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Using these numbers, they have $62.9 million committed, leaving them roughly $8.6 million to get all four players signed.

Update: Under normal conditions, Morrow would have burned the first year of his ELC in 2011-12, making him an RFA this summer. However, it’s possible that the lockout means his Age 20 date gets interpreted differently than it would be any other year, in which case it’s possible his deal slid that season, which would mean he has a single year left on his deal, as per NHL Numbers. In that case, the Bruins would have $63.7 million, not $62.9 million, committed. 

It’s going to be tight. However, Hamilton is coming out of his entry-level deal and those defencemen rarely get paid major dollars and none of the other three are really established as full-time NHL’ers (though they probably will be in a year’s time).

I should also note that this projection assumes that Marc Savard will start the year on injured reserve. There are advantages to going into Day 1 with Savard on the roster and then bumping him to the IR, but that’s going to be awfully difficult and would force some really tough choices unnecessarily.

Targets for Edmonton

The obvious primary target for Edmonton is Dougie Hamilton, because he’s the player they need. I don’t think there’s any chance it happens. Boston has the flexibility to match nearly any offer sheet, and given how close Zdeno Chara is to the end of the line they have incredible incentive to do so. They certainly won’t trade him.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The other hypothetical possibilities on defence are Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. It’s hard to imagine the Bruins moving Chara; even if they were willing it’s hard to imagine the Oilers paying a premium for a 38-year-old defenceman. Seidenberg was the subject of trade rumours this spring, but he turns 34 in July and has three years left to run on his current deal; would Edmonton really consider that for a player whose performance has slipped over the last couple of seasons?

Things are more promising at forward. If Boston looks to shed salary that’s the logical place to do it. In the Bruins’ shoes, I’d be looking at Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson (in that order) as possible cap sacrifices. Any of those players might be nice fits in Edmonton and all have just a single season remaining on their current contracts. Whether it’s sensible for the Oilers to be spending money/assets up front is more problematic but the opportunity probably exists.


  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Exactly, this team might be unrecognizable in two years. I understand people are loath to trade the young guys because we suffered so much to get them, but if Chiarelli is able to parlay a few young pieces into a more NHL ready supporting cast, wouldn’t you be all for it? You can’t win with a team full of Eberles, you need the depth behind them, especially in the western conference.

    It’ll hurt when the trades happen, I’ve grown attached to these guys too, but I truly believe the only untouchable names in the organization now are McDavid, Nuge, Draisatl and Nurse. Maybe Klefbom as well. Aside from those guys, the only person I’d rage at losing would be Hall. That kind of speed doesn’t come around very often, and we’ve managed to grab three of the best skaters I’ve ever seen in my life: Hall, McDavid and Nurse.

    Get your centers, your defensemen and your starting goalie, and the wings tend to take care of themselves, it seems. We’ve finished bottom five for almost a decade. Clearly, the strategy is flawed.

  • @Jonathan Willis

    In support of the notion a bold more – any decent incoming winger with McDavid or Nuge is going to be able to up their game. Our swiss-cheese D MUST be shored up. I love Yak’s emotion but you roll the dice on what happens with him, substitute Yak (low value contract) and next year’s draft #1 (entry level) for Hall (too high top end = too risky) in crazy trade.

    Crazy trade alternative:

    Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton in exchange for Yak, Jultz and 2016 #1 Pick.

  • @Clyde

    Indeed they do have big value, hence the interest. I’m fishing for Yak comments.

    Trade is in support of lowering cap hit with potential value. (Jultz just in there for a replacement D, do we send Ference back? Nikitin? and keep some salary)

    Would you trade Hall then?

  • Joy S. Lee

    The Bruins have an assortment of interesting potential targets that I like, mostly the obvious ones: Lucic, Krejci, Chara, Hamilton, Marchand, Bergeron, R.Smith, Krug. For younger guys, I like Pastrnak and Connolly as well.

    If I were the Oilers, I would target Subban in particular along with Lucic, and keep an open mind to Pastrnak or Reilly Smith. I think Hamilton would cost too much.

    • Serious Gord

      At the time of that trade Burke completely miscalculated the strength of his defense – expecting them to easily make the playoffs. No way he makes that trade had he thought there was any chance that they would perform as badly as they did.

  • Darth Oiler

    Offer sheet Dougie Hamilton at 6M x 6 years and hope they don’t match. If they do then offer sheet connelly for second round money. Or you could do it in the opposite order.

  • Darth Oiler

    Why are people even talking about trading Hall and Eberle when Nail Yakupov is looking more and more like Patrik Stefan every day? IMO Yakupov is the first of the young wingers that gets moved. Who cares if his value is low, and who cares if he becomes a 20-25 goal scorer somewhere else? He’s not going to help this team win period. He’s a terrible defensive player that consistently makes bad reads in the offensive zone. Yes he is young and yes he has a ton of potential, but if the Oilers don’t move one of their small top 6 forwards, they’re going to continue to be physically outmatched against bigger, more veteran teams.

    • You have to be wrong about Yak. They can’t just let him evaporate like Sefan or Daigle, they have to give him the opportunity to succeed that he’s been rarely given before here and he has to seize that opportunity. One of the reasons that Hall or Eberle is expendable is because he can replace much of that offence and potentially all of it. Either of them will grant you a greater return than Yakupov today. Those of us in the ‘trade Hall or Eberle if it will get you a top pair D’ set believe that Yakupov can and will step up and become something close to the player he was projected to be, he’s just had some stumbles along the way.

  • billythebullet

    Chris Kelly might be a cheaper alternative to having Purcell and his 4.5m on the third line. Maybe you could move middling prospect or a 3rd rounder strait up for him, and then flip Purcell for a similar return to another team?

    • billythebullet

      If the Oilers seriously wanted to move Purcell, They’d probably be looking for a younger player to fill his shoes. I don’t see Chris kelly adding much to this team anyway. He’s essentially Boyd Gordon 2.0

  • 916oiler

    It would be funny to see Chiarelli feed to the guys who fired him with a lucrative offer sheet for Hamilton, but I can’t see it working out in a way that gets him to the Oilers. I like Lucic especially because he wouldn’t be a primary threat in Edmonton. He’d be the guy set up to succeed by all of the matchmaking against higher skilled players. Pus he’s the kind of player that Edmonton hasn’t had in their top 6 this century (wouldn’t we all like to see him play against the Canucks five or six times a season?). To me one of the things that has defined Lucic is his quote ‘we’re not that kind of hockey team’ when discussing how little pushback there was from Buffalo on a night they ran Miller all game. He has an attitude and mean streak that somehow needs to be brought to this lineup. It may as well be him that brings it.

  • Petrolero

    Looking at all teams, the one who stand way above the rest in terms of how screwed up the are with the salary cap is the Chicago Blackhawks. They have about 7 million to fill up 9 roster spots or something like that.

    I’m really looking forward to the article dedicated to them.

    Brent Seabrook and maybe even Johnny Oduya will be oilers come this fall, book it.