When Tim Thomas made it official via Facebook weeks ago that he was sitting out the 2012-13 National Hockey League season to focus on his three F’s (family, friends and faith.) everyone knew it hurt the Boston Bruins on the ice, and hurt the Bruins’ salary cap numbers.
Thomas’ cap hit of $5 million still goes towards the Bruins 2012-13 salary cap, which has been recently increased to $70.2 million for the offseason.
Since the announcement of Thomas’ decision the Bruins have gone on to re-sign forwards Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, and most recently, now number one goaltender Tuukka Rask putting the Bruins tight to the salary cap maximum.
According to Capgeek.com the Bruins have just $222,000 left to bring in some new pieces to the puzzle once free agency begins this Sunday. If you had hopes of a Zach Parise or Ryan Suter signing in Boston it looks like your dreams have been shattered.
Of course there are a few ways the Bruins could relieve themselves of some cap space.
First the Bruins could place injured forward Marc Savard on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) which would free them of his $4 million cap hit.
Another way the B’s could free up some space is by shipping Thomas out of town. Why would a team trade for a guy who won’t lace up the skates next season you ask? Well it’s simple — the NHL has a salary cap floor of $52 million which means all teams must be over this number to begin the season. Although Thomas carries a cap hit of $5 million, not a dollar would come out of anyone’s pocket as Thomas forfeits any money he would have received if he were to play next season. If a team were to trade for Thomas’ cap hit, my guess would be that it wouldn’t occur until just prior to the start of the season when teams are finally forced to reach the cap floor.
So a team that is looking to reach the cap floor for this season without dishing out a big contract to a player they may not want could pull the trigger on a trade for the two-time Vezina winning goalie.
The final option the Bruins have is to trade away a contract. Milan Lucic ($4.08 Million) Nathan Horton ($4 Million) and David Krejci ($5.25 Million) are guys who have decent cap hits that could force many teams to call if the Bruins were to put any of those guys on the table.
The biggest issue the Bruins will face in my opinion won’t come alive till the summer of 2013 in an offseason that, as of right now, no one knows what the salary cap will look like due to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that is set to expire in September.
After this coming season, the Bruins have nine free agents: Andrew Ference, Anton Khudobin, Horton, and Thomas are all unrestricted free agents (UFA). Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron, Brad Marchand, Rask, and Lucic are all restricted free agents (RFA)
Those are some pretty key names to the Bruins, and all could be set for some pretty paydays. If the salary cap somehow drops due to the new CBA, the Bruins could be in a world of hurt.
Unless something crazy happens on Saturday, the B’s will head into free agency with the least amount of cap space of all NHL teams.
Deciding who goes and who stays and at what cost is not a job I’d be looking forward to if I was Peter Chiarelli; good luck to you sir, you’re going to need it.