By acquiring Ondrej Kase, Don Sweeney just made accomplishing his offseason to-dos a tad easier.
The Boston Bruins on Friday landed the 24-year-old winger in a deal that sent the Anaheim Ducks David Backes, defense prospect Axel Andersson and Boston’s 2020 first-round pick. Kase’s contract carries a $2.6 million cap hit through this season and next, but by Boston ridding itself of 75 percent of Backes’ $6 million deal, it’s put itself in a much better position going forward.
In the short term, it allows the Bruins to fit a player like Chris Kreider or Kyle Palmieri in under the cap without having to ask the other team to retain money. But it also gives the Bruins much more flexibility as an important offseason nears.
Here are the Bruins’ pending unrestricted free agents: Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Jaroslav Halak, Joakim Nordstrom and Kevan Miller.
Their long list of restricted free agents include: Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman.
But in getting out from underneath Backes’ contract, the Bruins will have about $22 million in offseason cap space to sign guys, according to @BruinsCapSpace. Before Friday’s trade, they were looking at about 19.7 million in space, and that few million is going to make a difference.
So what does all this mean? Most notably, it increases their chances of being able to re-sign Krug, who is positioned for a big payday.
Say Chara re-signs on another deal that has a $2 million AAV. If Krug gets $8 million (which probably is estimating on the high end, but it would put him as the sixth-highest paid defenseman with Jacob Trouba, Brent Burns, John Carlson and Thomas Chabot), then the Bruins still would have roughly $12 million to sign their other free agents. It would be tight, but it’s doable, much more so than if they hadn’t parted with Backes.
Also, if the Bruins like what they get out of Kase in the middle six, they likely would feel less compelled to go out and try to sign winger this offseason that they think could play on the second or third line.
Of course, a lot of this goes up in smoke if the Bruins go out and acquire someone like Palmieri or Brandon Saad at the deadline, guys who have term on their deal and are signed to figures that’ll put a dent in Boston’s cap space.
That said, keeping Krug always was going to be tough. It still probably will be, but signing him in Boston on a long-term deal and taking care of other necessary free agents became much more attainable.