The Boston Bruins probably could have cleared enough salary cap space to re-sign veteran winger Jarome Iginla, but general manager Peter Chiarelli wisely chose to keep his eye on future players who will need new contracts in the near future.
“At the end I made a decision that — I felt that there were moves I could have made that at the end I didn’t want to make,” Chiarelli said Tuesday during his free agency conference call.
“I thought it was for the betterment of the organization, of the team, not to do it and that’s kind of where it’s stood. I also felt that we could have done another deal like we did last year, that was discussed. I mentioned earlier, we’ve got (David) Krejci coming up, we’ve got (Milan) Lucic coming up, we’ve got Johnny (Boychuk) coming up, we have the two young guys, Torey (Krug) and Reilly (Smith), we’ve got Dougie (Hamilton), Carl (Soderberg). We’ve got a lot of stuff, these are good players so I have to be cognizant of that, so that is one of the reasons why we didn’t do it and I decided to not make those moves.”
Iginla decided to take his talents to Colorado, where he signed a three-year deal worth $16.5 million with the Avalanche. The Bruins have a strong core of young players and keeping them long-term won’t be easy or cheap. Re-signing Iginla would have made the situation even more complicated.
Krejci is an unrestricted free agent next summer, and as a top-line center and proven playoff performer, he could earn $6 million or more on the open market at 29 years old. Lucic is a UFA in 2016, and as a unique power forward capable of scoring 25-30 goals, he probably won’t take a pay decrease from his current $6 million salary.
Soderberg is an interesting case. He became an integral part of the Bruins offense last season as the third-line center. He makes just over $1 million in 2014-15 and is then eligible for UFA status. Given his excellent two-way game, power-play ability and playmaking skill, re-signing him should be a priority.
The blue line might be tough to keep intact over the next year, too. Here’s an overview of upcoming defensive free agents.
|Player||Age||Salary Cap Hit||UFA/RFA|
|Torey Krug||23||$916,667 (2013-14)||RFA in 2014|
|Matt Bartkowski||26||$650,000 (2013-14)||RFA in 2014|
|Dougie Hamilton||21||$894,167||RFA in 2015|
|Johnny Boychuk||30||$3.36 Million||UFA in 2015|
|Adam McQuaid||27||$1.56 Million||UFA in 2015|
Iginla’s loss is a tough one. His scoring (30 goals, 31 assists) will be difficult to replace and he fit in perfectly with the Bruins’ physical, defense-first style of play alongside Krejci and Lucic on the top line.
But to consistently contend for Stanley Cups in the salary cap era, there will be veterans who aren’t re-signed. The Chicago Blackhawks, for example, have traded or let go of numerous veterans (Dave Bolland, Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell, etc.) after winning the Cup in 2010 and 2013. Similar to the Bruins, the Blackhawks have remained an elite team by drafting well, signing college free agents and adding depth through smart trades.
Hurting his ability to re-sign guys like Krejci and Lucic in the future by inking a deal with Iginla this summer would not have been smart move by Chiarelli.
“It was no secret it was a good fit here so he’s — Jarome was looking for security and term,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know, he probably would have done a one-year deal with us on those terms at some point but I don’t know. I didn’t want to really jeopardize not being able to re-sign the other guys.”
Salary info via CapGeek
Photo via USA Today Sports Images