NHL Boston Bruins

NHL Rumors: Who’s Next to be Re-signed by the Boston Bruins?

After Brad Marchand was re-signed for four years, the latest in a long series of signings to keep the core of the Boston Bruins together, which member of the team could be next in line for a re-signing? Furthermore, when could it happen, especially considering the continued uncertainty throughout the NHL?

A look at the Bruins lineup on CapGeek shows a few players whose current contracts are set to expire in 2013-14, plus what status they will attain if their contracts expire:

  • Milan Lucic, restricted free agent
  • Nathan Horton, unrestricted free agent
  • Tyler Seguin, restricted free agent
  • Jordan Caron, restricted free agent
  • Andrew Ference, unrestricted free agent
  • Aaron Johnson, unrestricted free agent
  • Anton Khudobin, unrestricted free agent
  • Tuukka Rask, restricted free agent
  • Tim Thomas, unrestricted free agent

Lucic and Horton coming up at the same time means the potential breakup of the top line, something that general manager Peter Chiarelli doesn’t seem very keen on doing, so he’ll need to definitely think about how to keep the band together in that respect. Horton has a no-trade clause and a $4 million cap hit. Recently married Lucic has a similar cap hit that represented a giant raise from the $850,000 cap hit on his previous contract. Horton is still slightly a question mark considering his struggles with concussions, but if he can come back and perform like he did in his first season as a Bruin, he could see a reward too.

Seguin and Caron are both nearing the end of their entry-level contracts. Considering Seguin’s production over his first two seasons in the NHL, it would be a wise decision to get him locked down for a long time so he can continue to grow, do well and give Jack Edwards fits of glee. Caron is valuable especially for Providence, although he has also been called up before and played more of 2011-12 in Massachusetts than in Rhode Island.

On the defensive side, Ference shared alternate duties this past season and had a career-best in terms of goals, almost matching his total season output for the first time since his 2005-06 season with Calgary. He can throw a hit, block a shot, drop the gloves and teach his teammates how to compost. He’s a valuable team asset.

Johnson was picked up this offseason from Columbus and has yet to play a game within the Bruins system, so it’s too soon to tell what Boston should do with him.

Khudobin spent most of last season doing pretty well in Providence, though he did impress in his one-game callup to Boston, and he will now ascend to the backup goalie position behind Rask. Of course, Rask’s one-year deal is partly a gauge of how he can do as starter this coming season, so he and Khudobin’s futures will depend on how he does as the number one. Speaking of former number ones, Thomas is a sticky wicket, to say the least. He might be the one biggest question mark among the team: will he come back after his year off? Will he be traded before that happens? Will he call it a career and hang up the pads? His now-famous independent streak means it’s hard to predict what he might do.

Looking a little further down the road, these big pieces of the Bruins puzzle have contracts expiring later.

  • Patrice Bergeron (2014-15, unrestricted free agent)
  • Shawn Thornton (2014-15, unrestricted free agent)
  • Dennis Seidenberg (2014-15, unrestricted free agent)
  • David Krejci (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)
  • Rich Peverley (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)
  • Gregory Campbell (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)
  • Daniel Paille (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)
  • Johnny Boychuk (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)
  • Adam McQuaid (2015-16, unrestricted free agent)

Yes, every single one of them could test the waters of free agency. I feel that it is absolutely crucial the Bruins re-sign Bergeron. He’s the player the team built its future around after the lockout and deserves to have his continuous quiet hard work rewarded with another career. He’s the kind of guy who should ideally play for just one team in the course of his entire career.

Krejci and Peverley can be important re-signs as well because both have performed well. Sometimes Krejci is more iffy, but with the top line hopefully back up to full speed, he should hit his stride again. Peverley has been a well-performing surprise since he was picked up and may find an extension as a reward too.

Thornton, Paille and Campbell–the entire Merlot Line comes up for renewal within a year of one another. Since Chiarelli has shown his commitment to Merlot recently, unless all three of them suddenly forget how to play the kind of hockey they’re known for, look for them to be extended.

Much of the defensive corps needs renewal in the next few years. Dougie Hamilton‘s eventual ascension to the NHL may mean a change in how the blue line looks in the near future, but all three of those defensemen named above are big, shot-blocking, hit-throwing presences who could be Bruins for a while more. It just remains to be seen.

The fact that Marchand was re-signed about a week before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement may reflect Chiarelli’s continued faith in things going well in the labor sphere. His background is law–he has his law degree–and he’s been hopeful about labor-related things for months now.

By the way, the Bruin with the longest-term contract is captain Zdeno Chara. His contract expires in 2019, when he will be 44 years old.