Before the inevitable the 2004-2005 NHL Lockout the Bruins front office chose to let key players hit unrestricted free agency, freeing up cap space and seemingly giving themselves the opportunity to transform their team through free agency. The problem was that they let their core players walk and when the lockout ended their was a low salary cap in place and the Bruins couldn’t exactly build a contender over night, like they expected. What ensued was two years of 5th place hockey in the Northeast and a three year rebuilding process.
The Bruins have learned from the previous lockout and now that they have a perennial contending roster in place, they can’t afford to lose their core, nor should they. Before the new and undercertain CBA rules kick in Peter Chiarelli signed Brad Marchand to a four-year deal worth $18 million ($4.5 per year). Some comparable players being Versteeg, Voracek, and Oshie. Next the Bruins signed Tyler Seguin to a six-year deal worth $34.5 million ($5.75 per year). Seguin’s deal is for less money than Eberle’s and Hall’s with arguably more room to grow then Hall. This deal could prove to be a huge steal if Seguin develops as he should. Lastly, the Bruins locked up Milan Lucic for three years at $18 million ($6 per year). The deal will make Lucic the highest paid forward on the Bruins roster and is a huge cap hit for a player with only one 30-goal season.
The Bruins got an absolute steal on Seguin and if Marchand continues to develop as a scorer they got their money’s worth their two. With Seguin, the ceiling is as high as any player in a Bruins uniform in a long, long time. With Marchand, you’re retaining a player who was an absolute monster in the playoffs and knows how to play in all three zones, get under players skin, and walk the thin line very well. With Lucic the Bruins paid way too much for a player who has lapses during the season and isn’t a continuous 30+ goal scorer. Lucic does provide a unique skill-set and there is no denying he brings a lot to the ice but Lucic needs to keep improving before he can be anywhere near a $6 million player.
However, all these cap numbers may end up being misleading if there is an overall salary rollback, which is something that’s being discussed at the moment. If that were to happen Lucic’s $6 million would become $5.2-$5.5 million per year. There’s also the unknown factor of where the salary cap goes from here. Nobody has indicated that it will go down, and it hasn’t since it was implemented after the 04-05 lockout, but at the same time, it might not continue to go up like the Bruins might be hoping. I’m guessing that Chiarelli has covered all his bases and that the Bruins can fit everyone under the cap under every circumstances. He also has an advantage in that his owner is one of the leaders of the Owners and likely knows how flexible they can be with signing players.
If there is another year-long lockout, which doesn’t seem to be likely at this point players would lose a year off their contracts, the contracts would not be deferred.
There are also a few interesting roster moves that the Bruins made in anticipation of the lockout.
The Bruins assigned Dougie Hamilton the OHL. Normally this would mean that Dougie would play the entire year in juniors but Chiarelli believes that if the NHL starts late this season that they’ll allow players in Dougie’s situation to be NHL eligible.
The Bruins also assigned 23 players to Providence, those players are Matt Bartkowski,Ryan Button, Carter Camper, Jordan Caron, Colby Cohen, Tommy Cross, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek, Michael Hutchinson, Jared Knight, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Adam Morrison, Tyler Randell, Max Sauve, Ryan Spooner, Niklas Svedberg, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, Garnet Exelby, Christian Hanson, Jamie Tardif and Trent Whitfield.
Caron, Seguin and other players under 23-years old would be able to play in the AHL if there was a lockout.
Hopefully this will be the most meaningless post I’ve ever written and we won’t have to worry about any of these things but it’s almost a certainty that the NHL season will start late. Conventional wisdom points to the season starting around Thanksgiving when the NHL’s national TV deal kicks in. Hopefully the owners wise up and realize that two lockout’s in eight years isn’t good for anybody.