With the Boston Bruins only a shade under the $69 million salary cap for the 2014-2015 NHL season, the ongoing contract negotiations with free-agent forward Jarome Iginla continue to be the main interest point for Boston fans this offseason. The rugged right winger and soon-to-be Hall of Famer is not a sure sign to return to the Bruins for another Stanley Cup run, and in the event he chooses not to re-sign with Boston, the team could potentially fill his role with younger players.
According to NBC Sports, the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings have both reached out to Iginla’s agent in beginning contract discussions. While both teams qualified for the postseason a year ago, neither have the depth and balance that the Bruins have in attempting to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Wild are a young team with intriguing superstars like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. But the duo were unable to help Minnesota get past the Chicago Blackhawks. And for the Red Wings, the aging team fell to the Bruins in the playoffs after suffering many injuries to their superstars, but Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are both world-class players capable of making a deep playoff run.
So if Iginla decides that he does not want to re-sign with Boston, or if the team is unable to come up with a contract that fits under the cap, he could walk away and leave a hole in the top-six forward combination for the Bruins. Finding one replacement for Iginla’s 30 goals last season would be impossible to do from within the organization, meaning that the team would need to look at other free agents or through a trade to find an offensive equivalent. But the team could also replace his offensive prowess with a plethora of younger players mixed in throughout the Bruins’ lineup.
Last season Boston fans got a glimpse into the future thanks to the play of talented youngsters Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. Both were strong in their brief stints with the big club, and Fraser got to play in the playoffs on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Erikkson. That combination proved to be extremely productive and could be a solid combination next year. Spooner, or maybe Reilly Smith could fill in on the Boston top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Because of the salary cap restrictions that the Bruins are currently dealing with, a mix of youthful talent offers the team some offensive talent at a bargain price. July 1 will offer plenty of excitement for Bruins fans and management, and the decision made will speak volumes about the direction the organization will take headed into next season.