The Boston Bruins made some small signings in the past couple days, bringing back Jordan Caron and Matt Bartkowski with one-year contracts. Both have shown flashes of potential, and will likely get the chance to prove whether or not they’re worth further consideration this year.
While that’s all well and great, the team still needs to address two restricted free agents who both individually contributed more than Caron and Bartkowski combined: Reilly Smith and Torey Krug. Both players need to be resigned, but the process of doing so is further complicated by the sliver of cap space Boston has remaining. Right now, the Bruins have a measly $390K left to spend.
With this in mind, it leaves you to wonder just when, and how Boston plans on bringing Smith and Krug back into the fold.
Coming into the offseason, it appeared a trade or two would free up the necessary space needed to retain the aforementioned youngsters. Now, with the signings of Bartkowski and Caron, there might need to be additional moves made. It all depends on just how much the Bruins want to spend on Krug and Smith.
Each player is coming off cap hits of about $900K, yet both definitely outperformed their respective salaries. Smith, initially seen as an also-ran in the famous Tyler Seguin trade, immediately gelled with line-mates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, tallying 51 points in his first full NHL season. Meanwhile, Krug appeared to fulfill the Bruins’ seemingly lifelong search for an offensive defenseman, scoring 14 goals and 40 points, while also injecting life into the team’s power play.
If Boston wanted, they could easily let both go. Of course, that’s neither a wise move nor a likely one. Even if they did, there’d still be the small chunk of change that is their remaining cap money. The Bruins need to keep both players, and as a result, others need to be moved.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk continues to see his name pop up on the trade rumor mill. Boston also has a handful of players on the final year of their respective contracts, such as Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, and Carl Soderberg, though the latter is likely a key player for the team moving forward.
The thing to note, though, is any trade Boston makes will be done with the intention of clearing cap space, with returns of prospects or picks at best. Any move the team was planning on making to improve their chances of competing for a Stanley Cup now has to be put on the backburner so they can free up enough space to resign Krug and Smith.
It’s all fluid at this point, but with the signings of Caron and Bartkowski, the Bruins have officially commenced their offseason. With important players still waiting for new deals, though, things are about to get interesting for Boston.