Talk of the Trade

Who will set foot on this ice again for the '12-'13 season? (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

As we think about the 2012-2013 hockey season, we have to think of what the Boston Bruins team is going to look like, or better yet, what it should look like. This is the piece where I dissect the Bruins roster of current players, aside from the Grading System, and decipher who should stay and who should go. In order to do this, we have to take a look at who is restricted and unrestricted in the free agency this season.

Restricted Free Agents:

Forward, #67 Beniot Pouliot
Goaltender, #40 Tuukka Rask

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Forward, #12 Brian Rolston
Forward, #23 Chris Kelly
Forward, #11 Gregory Campbell
Forward, #20 Dan Paille
Defenseman, #14 Joe Corvo
Defenseman, #6 Greg Zanon
Defenseman, #27 Mike Mottau
Goaltender, #1 Marty Turco

With all of these players looking to be signed, there is approximately $5,272,024.00 available in cap space, not including Marc Savard. Given the past two seasons, we can assume that he will not be playing in the 2012-2013 season.  Putting him on the Long Term Injury Reserve list (LTIR), that frees up $4,004,143.oo, providing the Bruins with $9,281,167.00 of salary cap space to play around with.

TRADE BLOCKS: 

For those of you that don’t know what ‘trade blocking’ means, allow me to elaborate.  Trade blocking is when a team tells all the other teams that they are willing to trade a certain player for certain positions. Taking a look at the current roster and how they performed throughout the season, here is what I am able to deduct:

I’m going to have to agree with the rumor mill that has been flying about Boston trading their leading goaltender Tim Thomas. Now, I know that this will get a lot of speculation, I understand that, but hear me out on this one. Yes Tim Thomas is an amazing and talented goaltender, there is no denying that. However, how reliable was he this season? Granted he was our only reliable goaltender through much of the second half of the year, due to Rask’s injury, which will wear anyone down playing that much without rest. Still, Thomas had an off season. To go from being unstoppable in Game 7 atmosphere to dropping to the worst in your Conference in a span of a couple months. Mind you, this wasn’t all just Thomas, but he was a large factor. It appeared this season Thomas was more focused on making his political stance known than he was about his on ice performance.

There are a few reasons that jump out as to why this would be a good decision. Being that his No Movement Clause is up July 1st, there are two young goaltenders ready to prevail and dominate and it frees up another $5million dollars that can be used towards building the top nine forwards that Peter Chiarelli is looking for.

While Tim Thomas will always hold a special place in all Bruins fans hearts alike, there comes a time when we all need to wake up and smell the roses. Thomas isn’t getting any younger. He is going to be thirty-eight years old when the puck drops to start the 2012-2013 season and thirty-nine come time for the playoffs.  Being a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, is is likely that he would be valuable in trade, especially since there is always at least one team looking for solid goaltending, especially out West with teams like Edmonton and Dallas. While his age may play a factor in whether or not someone would pick him up, his efforts on the ice are undeniable.

Moving on I take a look at David Krejci. Now, don’t get me wrong Krejci is a phenomenal player, when he is on point. Unfortunately, he goes throu-gh spurts and they are becoming few and far between. I’m sure a lot of you won’t agree with me on this one, but hear me out. Krejci’s best season with Boston was  2008-2009 where he registered 22 goals and 51 assists for 73 points. While this season he bested his career total of 22 goals by netting in 23, that was his biggest accomplishment.  He ended this season as a -5 and the most penalty minutes of his career. Bottom line, he is not performing like your top line center should be. Even being bumped down to third line center didn’t really seem to wake him up. The only thing that really got him going was putting him on the wing and allowing Tyler Seguin to center the line, to which he was able to post a few marks, but nothing substantial.

Now, if he was a second line center and making what he did in 2011-2012 ($3,750,000 ) it wouldn’t be so bad. You would have Seguin centering your top line and producing for you. But to be paying over $5million for a first line center that hardly produces and is inconsistent. Yeah, no. Granted Krejci is representing the Czech Republic in the World Championships, but even still, he has only contributed one assist and was 58% percent in the face-off circle yesterday. Those stats aren’t where a first line center should be.

Look at how he played in the playoffs this season, or didn’t play is more like it. Krejci was damn near invisible in the first round of the playoffs, especially for someone who is deemed a “playoff” player.  According to most journalists and people affiliated with the Bruins, from February on is when Krejci tends to shine. While he managed to come out of his slump fora a couple games, that’s as long as it lasted.  Taking a look at his statistics for the playoffs we find that in 2010-2011 playoffs he registered 12 goals, 11 assists for 23 points. Those are his best playoff statistics. Since then, they have rapidly deteriorated.  This season he only got a goal and 2 assists.

If the Bruins were to trade Krejci, there is no doubt that he is a valuable player and the Bruins could potentially benefit from it. If they were to ask for say a first round draft pick along with maybe a couple of prospects since Providence could really use the help right about now, it would have some potential. However, the ideal situation would be to ask for a key play maker, perhaps along the lines of Zach Parise.

If in fact both of these moves were to happen, you would be looking at Seguin taking his natural position at Center as he did throughout the season this year. Seguin is phenomenal on the ice and has the ability to see plays and the ice in a way that a lot of players can’t. That’s one of the key reasons that his line was the top scoring line, due to his play-making and goal scoring abilities. The kid proved he is able and willing to step up his game and play the way he needs to for the Bruins. As for Thomas, there is no doubt someone would be interested because there are no goaltenders currently listed as UFA’s that teams would be interested in. If these were to go through, you would be looking at the possibility of signing players like Zach Parise or off a long shot, Rick Nash.

Now, lets assume that both of these scenarios happen, that Tim Thomas and David Krejci get let go (along with Savard being on the LITR). That gives us about $19,529,167.00 to play around with. If in fact the Bruins partake in getting Zach Parise, you are looking at $13,529,167.00.  So let’s take a closer look at the RFA’s and UFA’s.

Restricted Free Agents:

Forward, #67 Beniot Pouliot
Goaltender, #40 Tuukka Rask

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Forward, #12 Brian Rolston
Forward, #23 Chris Kelly
Forward, #11 Gregory Campbell
Forward, #20 Dan Paille
Defenseman, #14 Joe Corvo
Defenseman, #6 Greg Zanon
Defenseman, #27 Mike Mottau
Goaltender, #1 Marty Turco

Looking at the restricted free agents first, we’ve got Benoit Pouliot and Tuukka Rask, both of which deserve to stick around. The Bruins signed Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the expectation that Pouliot would prove himself and earn a spot on the team. Personally speaking, he more than did that and instilled the only bid of confidence during the playoffs for the Bruins with Rolston and Kelly.  I would suggest keeping him on for another year at $1.1 million, allowing him to improve in certain aspects of his game, then signing him to a two year contract.

As for Rask, there isn’t any reason as to why he shouldn’t stick around next season. He has proven to be improving every season, battled back from injuries and has shown more confidence between the pipes than in previous seasons. The goaltender is definitely worth the $1,250,000.  To keep him on, I would consider a three-year extension to keep him around for $2.5 million-$3million.

As for unrestricted agents, here is where you guys are free to debate with me. Personally, looking at who we have, I would choose to keep Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. I’m keeping the Cup winning team together and saying adios to the newcomers.  My reasoning behind this is not because of the simple “hanging onto the memory” aspect as you might think, but more of a numbers game.

If the Bruins were to let Chris Kelly go, you are getting rid of one of the most versatile two-way players this team currently possesses.  Not only that, but you lose a strong voice in the locker room and veteran leadership. So you’re looking at spending around $3million to keep Kelly on or you bring in a new player and try and fill a void comparable to that of Mark Recchi. (Bruins fans, we all know how hard that void was to fill, ahem October)

By keeping Campbell and Paille you keep (arguably) the best fourth line in the League together, what with Shawn Thornton extending his contract, you’re looking at a somewhat decent/solid foundation for the ’12-’13 season.

There is nothing personal against any of the newcomers from the trade deadline, it’s simply the fact that they were signed on an emergency basis, at a time when the Bruins were plagued with injuries. While I would love to see Brian Rolston stick around, the rumor mill that is cycling around is that he is pondering retirement. If in fact he decides to stick around, I would definitely consider him for a one-year contract. Also, keep in mind that we are going to have young-gun OHL Best Defenseman Dougie Hamilton fighting for a defensive position this season as well, making one less spot for Mottau and Zanon to fill.

 

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