To say, by dealing Marc Savard, that the Boston Bruins’ offense would be left with bigger holes than a block of Gruyère cheese would be an understatement. But dealing the hockey club’s No. 1 center and best offensive pivot wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing to happen. That is, of course, if the front office can learn from their previous mistakes and properly fill those voids.
If the Bruins can successfully trade the two-time All Star, as well as another $4M-plus contract—Ryder, Thomas—then they have opened up some space for some potential free-agents (tomorrow, July 1).
If we’ve learned anything from this past season, we know that the 2009-10 Bruins roster just couldn’t step-it-up and replace Phil Kessel when it came to burying the puck. The entire team as a whole, as well as individually, didn’t meet the expectations of their 116-point season of yesteryear, and failed to pick up the slack of losing their 2006 first-round draft pick and his 36 goals. From potting the second-most goals in the NHL during 2008-09 with 270 goals-for (3.29 per game), the B’s plummeted to an NHL-low 196 goals (2.39 per game) last season; were an average 9th with 2.77 goals-for average in 13 post season games.
This isn’t to say the Bruins made a mistake by not re-signing Kessel; no-no-no. In Claude Julien’s system, it’s always been defense-first. But if the Bruins want to make a deep run at this year’s Stanley Cup, a face-lift is needed and they absolutely must make a splash, offensively, at a big fish in this year’s free-agency pool. However, a bit of creative and gutsy moves to clear salary-cap space ($5.54M according to capgeek.com) needs to happen first. The club brought in Nathan Horton from the Florida Panthers last week, but the B’s could be shooting themselves in the foot with ‘adding by subtracting’ if Savard is moved.
Back in February I wrote a piece on the possibility of extending an offer sheet to Anaheim Ducks’ restricted free-agent Bobby Ryan. It was more of an angle on what the Bruins could do with their copious amounts of draft picks they had at the time than a realistic possibility. Arthur Javier of AnaheimCalling.com chimed in on the future of the 23-year-old in Anaheim, and definitely worth a read to see what he thinks. But as free-agency is now hours upon us, that fantasy of seeing the young stud in Black-and-Gold isn’t so far off.
“If somebody wants to give him an offer sheet, we have lots of space. We’ll match.” Ducks GM Bob Murray said.
Anaheim does in fact have plenty of cap-space ($21M according to cap-geek), but also employs 19 roster players (four forwards making $4M and up) for the 2010-11 NHL season. Chiarelli and Murray do have a history of swapping players and picks. In March 2010 Anaheim shipped defenseman Steve Kampfer to Boston for a fourth-round pick (the Bruins also have the 2011 fourth-round pick from Phoenix for Derek Morris) and in 2009, the Bruins received blue-liner Steve Montador in exchange for forward Petteri Nokelainen.
If Ryan were to sign an offer sheet in Boston or any other club worth $5M per season, according to the current CBA, that team would then compensate the Ducks with a first-, second-, and third-round draft pick for 2011. The good news for the Bruins is that they still have more picks than just their own next year. Here’s what they’ve got: two first-rounders (own and Toronto to complete Kessel trade); two second-rounders (own and Minnesota Wild for Chuck Kobasew); and own third-round selection.
In order for the Bruins to learn from past mistakes and become a legitimate threat for Lord Stanley, then they must become more active in this year’s free-agency period. A big, versatile forward like Ryan to help light the lamp in Boston is precisely what the Bruins need. And it’s what someone like David Krejci needs even more, as the days of Wheeler–Krejci–Ryder must come to an end.
This could all be in my head, in dreamland. But then again, maybe not. Either way, the Bruins brass must be aggressive on July 1.