This is the second of a four-part series, reviewing each of the eight remaining Boston Bruins’ impending free-agents for the 2010-11 NHL season.
Taking many things into consideration, I’ve ranked these players from least important to most—who the Bruins’ brass should keep, and who should go. The NHL free-agency deadline, July 1.
Name, position, status, 2009-10 cap-hit:
Steve Begin: Center, UFA—$850
Johnny Boychuk: Defense, UFA—$500K
Daniel Paille: Left wing, RFA/arbitration eligible—$1.125M
Mark Recchi: Right wing, UFA—$1M
Miroslav Satan: Right wing, UFA—$700K
Vladimir Sobotka: Center, RFA—$750K
Mark Stuart: Defense, RFA/arbitration eligible—$1.3M
Blake Wheeler: Right wing, RFA—$2.825M
Of the eight, here are the five and six:
6. Steve Begin UFA Center
A hustler (no, not that kind), solid penalty-killer, heavy-hitter, and a solid all-around fourth-liner…yes, I’m a huge Steve Begin fan. Inked with a one-year deal worth $850K last off-season, Begin proved his worth with Shawn Thornton on the energy line, and alongside Daniel Paille on the PK. But all the good stuff he brought to the team this season just won’t be enough. He was an absolute pest when he played in Montreal (like Steve Ott) but somehow turned that agitator role down here in Boston. Unfortunately, his position is going to be filled by someone else in a black-and-gold jersey this season. I’d like to rank Begin higher on the totem pole, but it just wouldn’t make any sense. With the slew of up-and-coming centers in the Bruins’ system, this slot is open to any of them.
Bottom Line: Begin continues his journey throughout the NHL in the same role, with a similar contract.
- Calgary Flames—Craig Conroy—38, $1M
- Maple Leafs—Wayne Primeau,—34, $1.4M
- Chicago Blackhawks—John Madden—37, $2.75M
- Ottawa Senators—Matt Cullen—33, $2.8M
- Maxime Sauve
- Brad Marchand
- Joe Colborne
5. Blake Wheeler RFA Right Wing
Age, size, versatility, and potential: four things that No. 26 has on his side when it comes to contract negotiations. The 23-year-old packed on 15 lbs. during last off-season, but obviously didn’t know how to put it to work on the ice. At 6’5″ 205 lbs., Wheeler has got to learn how to play as a power forward for him to succeed in Boston…or any other city for that matter. Being a restricted free-agent, the Bruins have already extended a qualifying offer to Wheeler…who is also arbitration eligible this season (see below for qualifying offers and salary arbitration).
“I’m calling it“: Wheeler gets dealt by this Friday’s draft, along with their 15th overall pick, as part of a package for Boston to move up into the top-7-ish selection.
- Phoenix Coyotes—Lee Stempniak—26, $3.5M
- Anaheim Ducks RFA—Bobby Ryan—22, $765K
- Nashville Predators RFA—Patric Hornqvist—22, $620K
Qualifying offers explained:
- To retain the negotiating rights to a RFA, the team must extend a “qualifying offer” to that player.
- Players who earned less than $660,000 in the previous season must be offered 110 percent of last season’s salary. Players making up to $1 million must be offered 105 percent. Players making over $1 million must be offered 100 percent.
- If no qualifying offer is extended to the RFA, the player becomes a unrestricted free-agent (UFA)
- If the RFA rejects a qualifying offer, the player remains a restricted free agent
- If the RFA doesn’t sign with a team before Dec. 1, he becomes ineligible to play the remainder of that NHL season.
Arbitration eligible: (in a nutshell)
- A bargaining tool for RFA’s to settle contract disputes. A neutral third party (arbitrator) sets the player’s salary after a hearing between the team and RFA.
- Arbitration cases can take a player and team as late as August.
- A decision must be made within 48 hours of the hearing. The team has the right to walk away/decline the announced salary. If the team exercises this right, the RFA can now declare himself as a UFA.
- A player can only be taken to arbitration once in his career. With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) he may never receive less than 85 percent of his previous year’s salary.
Coming soon, Part III: numbers 3 & 4