Every July 1 it seems that NHL teams are throwing sacks of money with green dollar signs on them at players. This year seemed especially crazy given the raise in the salary cap (and salary cap floor) and teams like Florida a gaudy $30 under said floor. So what happens when you have a thin free agent market and teams with ass loads of cash to spend? Overpayments! Guys who normally don’t deserve large contracts got them. Here’s a few of the overpayments I was talking about.
Scottie Upshall – 4 years $14M – 82GP 22G 12A 34P +/- -7
Ed Jovanovski – 4 years $16.5M – 50GP 5G 9A 14P +/- +4
Tomas Kaberle – 3 years $12.75M – 82GP 4G 43A 47P +/- +4
Tomas Fleischmann – 4 years, $18M – 45GP 12G 19A 31P +/- +2
Tim Connolly – 2 years $9.5M – 68GP 13G 29A 42P +/- -10 (wow)
That’s just a sample of the unrestricted free agents who received more money than they probably deserved, but they weren’t the only ones. A lot of restricted free agents got paid too. Christian Ehrhoff was traded from Vancouver to New York Islanders to Buffalo and finally settled on a 10 year, $40M contract with the Sabres. Steve Montador got a 4 year, $11M deal from Chicago. I wouldn’t pay that asshole in Trident layers.
Why bring all of this up?
After winning a Stanley Cup the Boston Bruins have remained relatively quiet in the free agent market this offseason. At the end of the season Boston had five players who were either a restricted or unrestricted free agent. That group included Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Shane Hnidy, Tomas Kaberle and lone restricted free agent Brad Marchand. Off the bat Mark Recchi told everyone he was hanging up his number 28 jersey and it was obvious that Shane Hnidy wasn’t coming back to Boston given his age and lack of playing time. The three left were Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand.
Many Bruins fans felt that if Ryder was signed for more than $2M a year it was an overpayment and they were right. On this team, Michael Ryder is nothing more than a third line winger who can net anywhere between 15-20 goals. He’ll play hard for some games and then take off long stretches where it is noticeable that he’s dogging it. Hell, some night you wonder if he even knows what’s going on. So what happens? Peter Chiarelli lets Ryder walk for 2 years and $7M to the Stars, where Ryder will be a top 6 forward and probably score 20-25 goals.
Tomas Kaberle was a mixed bag amongst fans in Boston. Some liked him, some hated him. Some believed he was going to be a catalyst on the power play, a black and gold defibrillator to jump start the heart of the Bruins power play but unfortunately that defib was out of juice. Some believed it would take him more than just a few months to learn Julien’s defense first system. Some believe he was out of shape because a team like Toronto didn’t put much emphasis on “hockey shape”. Some just believed that Kaberle sucked. Whatever your feelings were, the Bruins knew the type of player they got.
Some thought that Chiarelli overpayed for Kaberle at the trade deadline, sending Boston’s 1st round pick, two second round picks and Joe Colborne for the defenseman. So what happened after Kaberle, a Stanley Cup champion, hit the free agent market? Carolina signed him for 3 years $12.75M (a cap hit of $4.25 per year). Not worth it. Plain and simple.
After the jump, a look ahead for the Bruins…
When Kaberle signed with the Hurricanes, Carolina and Boston agreed on a deal for defenseman Joe Corvo where Boston sent a 2012 4th round pick in return. Corvo’s contract isn’t bad at all, 1 year with $2.25M remaining before he is an unrestricted free agent. Corvo isn’t the only new Bruin that Chiarelli has brought into the fold. Beniot Pouliot, yes THAT Beniot Pouliot, will don a black and gold sweater next year but thankfully it’s a 1 year deal worth $1M.
Outside of resigning Brad Marchand, I can’t see the Bruins making any more deals (this includes signing people and trades). I know a lot of Bruins fans want Chiarelli to make a run at Steven Stamkos, but it’s time to get your head out of the fucking clouds and listen. For the Bruins to sign Stamkos a multitude of things need to happen:
1. Give Tampa Bay 4 first round picks.
2. Sign Stamkos to a long term deal probably in the range of 9-11M per year.
3. Say goodbye to either David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Johnny Boychuk or the 8 other free agents because you won’t be able to afford them all.
In short, it’s not worth losing vital pieces of a Stanley Cup championship team for one player. It doesn’t matter who that player is. I’ll it for once last time:
Steven Stamkos is not coming to Boston.
Peter Chiarelli has a plan and I believe it involves that crop of 11 free agents. Even in Marchand makes $3M a season (which I believe is too much), Boston will still have about $5M to play with. Add in Steve Kampfer’s salary (the likely 7th defenseman at $852,500K for this season) and a couple of younger guys moving up to the big club (possibly Caron, Knight and/or Hamill) the Bruins will look to be about $2-3M under the cap at the beginning of the year [this includes Marc Savard's cap number]. Chiarelli will most likely leave that cap open for the trade deadline and/or the offseason.
Letting Ryder walk, coupled with the retirement of Mark Recchi, means Boston’s minor league system will finally get to show off its talent. Don’t be surprised to see Jordan Caron fill a spot on the third or fourth line while guys like Zach Hamill (he has to be about 30 now, no?), Jared Knight or Ryan Spooner get ready to step in if injuries become a problem.
Will Boston makes “sexy signings”? No. Chiarelli has a calculated plan that involved signing Chara and Bergeron long term (and look at those deals; they’re steals in my opinion) and hopefully locking up some young talent next season.