The situation the Bruins are in after the season is slightly interesting.
If we don’t make the playoffs again, we know we will see a change in the team as a whole, and we will see a new team suit up for us next season.
If we do make the playoffs, we will see little change in the team as a whole and we can continue breathing as usual.
One of the things that can make or break a team is free agency. Making a splash during the off season allows a team to change the face of the team, and give us flexibility in cap space. Last season, clearing cap space was one of our problems, and we kind of fixed that in trading away Milan Lucic (Kings), Carl Soderberg (Avalanche), and Dougie Hamilton (Flames). With these trades, we were able to sign Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes, and resign Torey Krug and Ryan Spooner.
Off season is going to be a tad bit different this season, with bigger names available for Don Sweeney to sign, and a few contracts coming off the books for the Bruins.
Let me visualize it for ya:
(All Salary and UFA/RFA status was taken from generalfanager.com)
The first of two charts shows the pending UFA’s and RFA’s playing for the big club as of April 4th 2016. The green means that they are pending UFA’s and red means RFA. Let’s discuss some of the BIG names:
Loui Eriksson (Right Wing, 30y/o): Loui is probably one of the biggest names coming out of Boston this free agency. After having his best season in Boston, he is expected to get a big contract to match his point output. Eriksson has been with the Bruins since the 2013-14 season, and was acquired in the trade that shall not be named. Eriksson is a great two-way player, and is starting to get used to the play in Boston more and more.
The only problem with Eriksson is if we can give him the contract he wants. There has been no movement in talks between the two parties. The Bruins didn’t get the offers they were looking for during trade deadline, and decided to keep him to see if the talks would intensify, and they have not.
2014/15: 81GP 22G,25A (47Points) 2015/16: 80GP 29G, 32A (61 points)
John-Michael Liles (Defenseman, 35y/o): Liles is one of the newest Bruins on the current roster. In his 15 games with the Bruins after being acquired in a trade with Carolina, he has 5 assists, and has been a great addition to the blue line. With our blue line starting to get younger, it is good seeing a veteran in the mix with Chiller, Morrow, and Trotman.
2014/15: 57GP 2G, 20A (22 points) 2015/16: 79GP 6G 14A (20 points)
Torey Krug (Defenseman, 24y/o): Krug has been with the Bruins organization since the 2011-12 season, and has yet to sign a long-term deal. Coming of a one year, $3.4 million deal signed with Chiarelli as GM, his goal production has decreased, but has remained a fixture on the second and third pairings. He may be an undersized defenseman, but he is a great skater, and is capable of being physical. His increase in assists this season demonstrate his smart play and terrific passing skills.
2014/15: 78GP, 12G 27A (39 points) 2015/16: 79GP, 3G, 38A (41 points)
Lee Stempniak (Right Wing, 33y/o): Stempniak was literally my favorite Trade Deadline acquisition. With his low cap hit and career production, he has done great things since coming to Boston. He’s fast and speedy, and shows great skill all-around. He seems like one of those players who down to playing anywhere, he just likes playing hockey. He has played for 9 teams in his career so far, and is making a great name for himself this season.
2014/15: 71GP, 15G 13A (28 Points) 2015/16: 80GP, 18G 32A (50 Points) Almost DOUBLING his production over the course of one season!
Chris Kelly (Center/Left Wing, 35y/o): Kelly barely played any of the season, due to a broken femur that has kept him benched since early November. In the 12 games he did play this season, he had 2 goals, for a total of two points. He was a fixture in the bottom six, playing with Kemppainen and Randell a lot early on in the season.
2014/15: 80GP, 7G 21A (28 points) 2015/16: 12GP, 2G 0A (2 points)
With goaltenders literally knocking at the door in the AHL, I do not see the Bruins resigning Jonas Gustavsson. Malcolm Subban has been developing for a while in the AHL, and Zane MacIntyre is showing great promise in his first professional season.
Kevan Miller, Tyler Randell, and Landon Ferraro are all big question marks for me. I love watching Ferrero, he is a very energetic player and makes great plays. Miller has been off and on all season, and has been scratched from time to time throughout the season. Randell is a perfect fourth liner for the Bruins, with lots of grit and physicality. It all depends on the contracts they are offered and the contracts they want/demand.
All though I am not discussing the next chart as in depth as the first one, I also wanted to share whose contracts are up next season in Providence:
Interesting names to look at: Colin Miller (D), Jeremy Smith (G), and Alex Khokhlachev (F)
PLEASE SWEENEY. I BEG OF YOU. PLEASE RE-SIGN CHILLER. please.
Alex Khokhlachev remains in the top 5 of AHL scoring as of 4/4/2016, with 59 points (21 Goals, 38 assists), and was called up to the NHL once this season. He was the Bruins’ 2011 second rounder (40th overall).
Jeremy Smith has shown great promise in the AHL, but has yet to start his first NHL game. He has been a fixture in the ECHL and AHL since the 2009-10 season, his first season of professional hockey.
This season was Colin Miller’s first season in the NHL, having spent the first two seasons of his pro hockey career with the Los Angeles Kings organization, playing for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. Miller has shown that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL, and has 3 goals, 12 assists (15 points) to show for it. He just needs to be on a team with space on the blue line for him to get playing time, which was his main problem this season.
Once free agency gets closer and closer, and contracts are signed more and more, I will make a post regarding who we should pick up for our space (like last year).
Hey Sweeney! Lucic might be a free agent.
Bring him back, maybe?
fear the bear