Bruins Cap Dilemma
With a dreaded 2014 baseball season coming to a close, and a promising football season on the horizon, Boston Bruins fans know that hockey is right around the corner. The Bruins pre-season opener against arch rival Montreal is just 22 days away, and the Bruins front office still has work to do. The Bruins still have yet to sign defenseman Torey Krug, and winger Reilly Smith due to the cap problems that plagued them from making any big splashes in the free agent market this offseason, and kept them re-signing star winger Jarome Iginla, who left for Colorado.
Krug, a 23 year old from Michigan, is coming off a spectacular rookie season in which he netted 14 goals, and accumulated 40 points in 79 games. After scoring 4 goals against former Vezina winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist during their matchup in the eastern conference semifinals during the lockout shortened season, Krug’s rookie season was expected to be a very good one, and he did not disappoint.
However, Bruins fans and coaches were not the only ones to notice Krug’s exceptional play over the last year and a half. Torey has received a big money offer from a Kontinental Hockey League team (professional Russian Hockey league), and Krug is, and should be seriously debating about accepting the offer. The KHL is known for trying to snatch RFA’s from the NHL, and Krug is no exception. As of now, due to their restricted cap space, the Bruins can only offer Krug around two million dollars per year.
Reilly Smith, is the winger the Bruins acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade along with Loui Eriksson. In his first full season, Smith played extremely well with Bergeron line. Smith was a 51 point scorer, scoring 20 goals for the first time. His chemistry with star center Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand was evident early as he recorded points in six of his first eight games in black and gold.
With training camp coming up in the near weeks, the Bruins need to do something to clear cap space as soon as possible, or else Krug could be in Russia, and Smith probably soon to follow, at least in the international hockey sense. Rumors have floated around that blue liner Johnny Boychuk could be the lucky man out. Boychuk’s cap hit this season is around 3.6 million dollars. At the moment, the Bruins are $800k over the salary cap, which is okay by league standards. But freeing some if not all of the 30 year old’s contract may give the Bruins front office enough flexibility to sign both Krug and Smith.
Although Boychuk is not known for his offense (19 goals in 317 regular season games with Boston), he’s had a tremendous impact on the Bruins Stanley Cup runs, and playoff successes. In the 2011 cup winning season, Johnny played in a career high 25 playoff games which featured him netting three goals, and assisting on six others. In the lockout shorted season when the Bruins went to the Cup Finals (only to lose to the Hawks in six games), Boychuk was even better. In 22 games, he netted a playoff career high 6 goals, and accumulated more points than he did in the 48 game regular season.
The most well known side of Boychuk however, is his aggression on the defensive side of the puck. His 593 hits and 46 takeaways in his Boston career show he’s not afraid to attack the man or the puck, and his work has paid off for him as he’s one of the top defenseman on 2nd best defensive team last year. Only the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings gave up less goals last year.
So is Boychuk the right man to be shipped out? His contract certainly says so, but his performance says otherwise. There’s no question that the Bruins are in a tough situation, but the big question going into camp is, will the Bruins cave in and give up Boychuk, or will someone else be traded? There is one thing that is certain though, everyone in Boston wants Krug and Smith in black and gold colors by the start of camp.