The salary cap is expected to go up to roughly $70 million in the NHL this upcoming season, and even though the Boston Bruins have some money to spend, do not expect them to sign a top-billing free agent this summer. For a team that was upset in the playoffs, the areas that need improvement can be done through organizational depth and not through the free agent market. Because of this, the Bruins will not pursue or sign any of the free agent talent this summer, including Marian Gaborik or Brad Richards.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced this afternoon that the Bruins remain active in their pursuit of re-signing Jarome Iginla. That cap hit would place Boston right near the cap ceiling, and unable to make a big splash this summer with one of the aforementioned forwards. While both would offer an immediate scoring punch to the Bruins’ lineup, their salaries would be far too much for a team absent of superstars but instead built on quality players with manageable salaries.
Boston will not actively pursue a major free agent this summer, and any potential holes in their lineup can be filled by minor league talent eager to breakthrough in the NHL. If Chris Kelly struggles with health issues once again, or Iginla does not resign with the Bruins, there are plenty of players down in Providence ready to take a crack at the big-league lineup. Boston already has a spot on the fourth line that used to belong to Shawn Thornton, and a slew of players have a decent shot of making the team out of training camp.
Last season, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Jordan Caron and Justin Florek all played roles with the Bruins on offense, with Spooner and Fraser having the most significant impact in their short stints with the big club. Caron has flirted with success with the Bruins for a couple of years now, but it might be time to pull the plug on the former first round pick. Florek fit in admirably in the playoffs on the bottom two lines, but his offensive upside is trumped by both Spooner and Fraser.
While these names do not have the same star weight as Richards and Gaborik, the two free agents do not fit into the Boston lineup. The Bruins have done well with homegrown talent of late, and implementing the speedy minor league duo into the lineup next season will do wonders for the team — without having to spend big money this summer.