The Boston Bruins organization will have some work to do during the altered 2020 NHL offseason. Following the team’s elimination from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs back in August, a number of players entered the offseason with expiring contracts. It will be interesting to see which free agents will return to the club for the 2020-2021 regular season after the Presidents’ Trophy winners were ousted in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Tampa Bay Lighting.
Which Bruins Players Are Free Agents?
Among the club’s most prominent unrestricted free agents (UFAs) are:
- Zdeno Chara (D)
- Torey Krug (D)
- Joakim Nordstrom (LW)
- Kevan Miller (D)
Notable restricted free agents (RFAs) entering the offseason include:
- Jake DeBrusk (LW)
- Matt Grzelcyk (D)
- Karson Kuhlman (RW)
The Financial Reality
According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins currently have just under $15 million in salary cap space to work with this offseason. The teams total cap will remain flat at $81 million dollars “until leaguewide revenue reaches pre-pandemic level,” per The Boston Globe.
On top of a decrease in leaguewide revenue, Delaware North, the concessions and hospitality company owned and operated by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, is projected to lose nearly two-thirds of its 2020 revenues. It is unknown exactly what impact this will have on the hockey club’s budget, but it likely will not be insignificant.
With a number of expiring contracts and a tight organizational budget, it is highly likely that Boston will have little choice but to part ways with a few of their coveted free agents.
What is Management Saying?
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely made it clear during their end-of-season press conferences that the organization plans to make roster changes for the 2020-2021 season.
“It’s on me to explore every opportunity that we have at improving [our club]”, said Sweeney. “There are certain players I certainly want to avoid because they’re a part of what we’re trying to accomplish now [and in] the future and we’ll try to do that. But I have to explore and continue to improve our club.”
Neely similarly mentioned that the team plans to “take a hard look at our roster and our organization” during the offseason “and see where we should be going in the next year or two.”
Chara Wants to Play Boston
Zdeno Chara wants to return to Boston for what would be his 23rd NHL season and his 15th as Bruins’ captain. During a press conference held about a month after the team returned from the playoff bubble, the 43-year-old defenseman told the media, “I feel strong physically and I’m positive and I believe that I can still play this game and contribute to the team. I want to stay in Boston and be a Boston Bruin, and I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences and my game skills with the younger players and my teammates.”
When asked where things stand with Chara, Sweeney stated, “He’s been an iconic and an important player for us. We’re going to explore our opportunities with he and our other players who are UFA and RFA status…addressing Zdeno’s contract situation is a part of that process.”
Chara has signed one-year extensions each of the past two seasons, for $5 million and $2 million respectively.
Krug Exploring Options
Although defensemen Torey Krug says that he feels “very comfortable in Boston,” he has made it clear that he is looking for a long-term deal that offers a significant raise. “This is my time in terms of my value at its peak and I have the ability,” said Krug during his end-of-season press conference. “I’m in a position now where I need to make the most of it.”
According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Bruins’ latest offer to Krug was a six-year deal of $6.5 million per year, a total value of $39 million.
However, it appears that an extra $1.25 million per year is not quite where the 29-year-old defenseman meant by peak value. In fact, Rear Admiral of Barstool recently reported that the Bruins are now seriously considering trading Krug’s exclusive negotiating rights in exchange for a future draft pick after their six-year offer was “apparently way off.”
Torey Krug’s career in Boston seems to be drawing to a close, but it would be hard for the Bruins to complain. After all, the team took a gamble when they signed Krug back in 2012 after the 5-foot 9-inch Michigan State product went undrafted. Krug subsequently made the club’s roster and, since the start of the 2016 season, he has been the sixth-highest scoring defenseman in the NHL.
In addition, Krug’s departure will open up cap space for the team to sign younger free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk.
Bruins Consider Trading Rask?
With the 2020 NHL Draft fast approaching, look for teams to begin making transactions as some clubs seek to utilize extra salary cap space while others attempt to shed expenses. Among those in the rumor trade mill is Bruins goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask.
On September 23rd, Seravalli reported that many people “are wondering whether GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the value of goaltender Tuukka Rask.” Although this is mere speculation, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility. After all, Rask, who turns 34 in March, is approaching the last year of his eight-year, $7 million contract.
However, Bruins’ back-up goaltender Jarslov Halak told the media that he believes the duo will “be together and hopefully better than ever” for upcoming season. Halak, who took over the starting position when Rask had to leave the playoff bubble for personal matters, recently signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal for the 2020-2021 season.
“I talked to him a bunch of times and obviously the approach for next season doesn’t change,” stated Halak.
When Will the Bruins Begin Making Moves?
The NHL recently announced that free agency will open on Friday, October 9th at 12:00 p.m. ET, just two days after the conclusion of the first ever virtual NHL draft. The Bruins have little choice but to be active during free agency if they want to secure much of their young core, so expect them to make moves early.
In addition, as a result of the altered offseason schedule, teams have been allowed to begin trading. Therefore, with the draft and free agency coming up, if the Bruins are to the trade negotiating rights of Torey Krug in exchange for a pick, expect them to do so before or during the NHL draft.
Round 1 of the NHL draft will take place on Tuesday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET and rounds 2-7 will begin on Wednesday, October 7th at 11:30 a.m. ET.