The Boston Bruins have a money problem. You may recall that last year, the Bruins willingly incurred a salary cap overage penalty as a result of (among a few other other things) a very easy-to-reach incentive clause in Jarome Iginila's contract that ended up contributing (per Capgeek.com) $3.75 million to their $4.75 million hit in dead space for this year's payroll. This should have been fine still, because Boston knew this hit was coming ever since Iginla played that tenth game a while ago. Unfortunately for Peter Chiarelli, Reilly Smith complicated matters a bit by scoring 20 goals in his first season with the team, and Chris Kelly's ended the season injured, making him ineligible for a compliance buyout on his $3 million salary. So now Boston is trying to find a way to re-sign RFAs Smith and Torey Krug with what Capgeek tells me is $3.2 million in space.
The possibility of pulling this off seems dubious at best. Krug and Smith made a combined $2.6 million last season--but Krug scored 14 goals and 40 points last year, and when you look at comparables for him and Smith, the numbers start to look a lot more iffy for the Bruins. You have to think Smith is looking for at least $2-3 million annually, and Krug is probably in the $2.5-3.5 range as well, but these are wild guesses. Let's assume $3 million apiece as a working number. This has them (after putting Savard on LTIR) about $3 million over the cap on day 1, which means they need to unload a contract or two without getting NHL salary in return.
What sorts of contracts might Boston be able to move, you ask? Well, per Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe:
The Bruins have excess on defense. General manager Peter Chiarelli has repeatedly classified nine defensemen as contenders for jobs when training camp opens Sept. 18. David Warsofsky, one of the nine, can be assigned to Providence without clearing waivers. But that leaves eight still in varsity play, which is one more than the Bruins usually carry.
Well, that's great, but we all know that Dallas isn't openly looking to pick up any new defensemen at this point, right? I mean, sure, in a perfect world they'd love to pick up a right-shot top four guy at 6'2" who wouldn't be signed long enough to block the kids. But it's not as if Boston has an extra one of those just lying around named Johnny Boychuk or anything.
Again, from the Globe:
Boychuk hits like a truck. He’s a right shot. He hammers the puck. The 30-year-old won a ring in 2011 as a dependable second-pairing roughneck. In this market, a team deficient on defense would have to commit $6 million annually for Boychuk’s services. Unless he accepted a healthy markdown, Boychuk would not see that kind of coin in Boston.
Boychuk is signed through next season at a $3.4 million cap hit, and you can bet that Jim Nill would not complain if Dallas were to find a way to pick him up. In this article, Shinzawa says that Boychuk was often used as a late-game shutdown d-man with Chara, which only makes you wonder what could have been if Dallas had possessed such a blueliner in the waning minutes of game 6 this spring. At least, that's what it made me wonder, and then I got all sad. I don't feel bad for making you experience this, too.
However, there's still the issue of Sergei Gonchar. In a perfect world, Boychuk could play with Dillon, and Jordie Benn could be scaled down the lineup to form a very much above-average third pairing with Nemeth. But until Dallas can find a better home for Gonchar, they are in a tight spot when it comes to taking advantage of teams like Boston in these situations. There's also the issue of Dallas' being not too far from the cap ceiling as well, but since Gonchar would have to be dealt to free up ice time in the first place, that would create the salary cap real estate as well. Seeing how nicely it would work out for Dallas to trade Gonchar just really makes you think that Nill probably got his number blocked by most of the other GMs this summer in his efforts to make this happen. ("No, Jim, for the last time, we do not need a 'great mentor' for Nail Yakupov; we just need him to score 50 goals.")
Even if nothing comes of this--and frankly, even if Dallas was ready to pull the trigger on a deal, ol' Peter might not be too anxious to dial up Jim Nill again given what happened last time--it's at least satisfying to see that the Seguin trade has found another way to inconvenience Boston. Thanks, Reilly Smith. You're all right.
Brett Ritchie signed "about a thousand autographs" at the the NHL Players Association's Rookie Camp in Toronto. [DMN]
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are leading the Stars' turnaround, says Chris Peters. He also says that Sergei Gonchar is "serviceable," which begs clarification. [CBS Sports]
The same two Stars' are listed 13 and 14 on the top 100 Fantasy Players list from Yahoo. Spezza and Lehtonen are also up there, but I'm surprised Hemsky isn't. If he does play with Seguin and Benn as thought, wouldn't he be a veritable points machine, in theory? Just saying. [Puck Daddy]
Jordie Benn has come a long way, says Mike Heika. Here's the profile of Mr. Miraculous himself. [DMN]
And Heika also took a minute to shoot down any possibility of Dallas grabbing Marleau or Thornton from San Jose (for now, at least). [DMN]
What could Chicago's forward corps look like after the seemingly-inevitable trade? [Second City Hockey]
Taylor Hall is ready to go out there healthy and distraction-free and be the best that he can be. I just met a guy on Saturday who saw Hall in an Edmonton hotel lobby the day after he got drafted, and he said that Hall looked like a lost kid. I didn't say it was an interesting story, but it is true. [PHT]
Corey Sznajder is charting zone entries for every single NHL game last season. He has raised over $5,700 so far to help fund this project. NHL teams have called him to get more information about his project. Also, he raves about Seguin's zone entry prowess. [TSN]
How do they program the commentary in the EA Sports' NHL franchise? This was pretty cool. [SI]
Here is an interesting comparison: One of the slickest goals scored this year. Note the mildly enthusiastic celebration... [Puck Daddy]
And we have one of the most insane goal celebrations I've seen right here, after an eminently simple wrist shot. (Australia, but still.) [Puck Daddy]
Roberto Luongo does the Ice Bucket thing in Ninja Turtles pajamas. This is getting out of hand. [Instagram]
Speaking of getting out of hand, On the Forecheck takes a look back at Anaheim's opening night back in 1993. Please tell me that Dallas' opening night wasn't anywhere near this horrifying. [OTF]