With the cap crunch on the Bruins this offseason many of us have failed to see the trouble that may lay ahead during next years offseason. Many GMs across the league were hopping for a bigger increase this year but the cap still increased by 4.7 million dollars which is a decent increase from 64.3 million to 69 million. So with that increase in mind let's say the cap goes up 6 million next year to 75 million because the NHL is doing very well for itself at the moment so 6 million is not out of the question. So Bruins fans you might all be excited to see this but that new space will be accounted for very quickly with several role and star players up for new contracts next season along with several AHL prospects.
I'm going to break this down by position to make some sense of all the possibilities that could happen so first off the forwards. The biggest name coming off the books next season is David Krejci the first line center who has been in that role since injuries ended Marc Savard's career. Krejci had a great year last season scoring 69 points once again good for the team lead. While his playoff performance was lacking it seems he goes into another level every other year scoring almost a point per game during the cup run then disappearing in the loss to the Caps the next year. Then once again another finals run where he was clearly our best player but we fell just short. So I'm expecting a big playoffs from him this year which is going to lead to interest in him being at a high. Krejci will make 5.25 million this upcoming season so if he can put in another great year of 65-75 points and a 20+ point playoffs he could be looking for around 6.5 to 7 million for the next few seasons. So that's 1.25 million at best of that 6 already off the books on just 1 player. Next is Carl Soderberg who is making just over a million next year. Playing on the third line and seeing plenty of power play time Soderberg scored 48 points in his rookie year. If he can put together another 40 point year he will clearly be getting a raise if he stays with the team to around 3-3.5 million a year so at best that is another 2 million gone. So after two players we have lost 3.25 million already over half of the new cap space and we still haven't even gotten to the new deals for Caron, Paille, Campbell, or Florek. I don't see Caron or Campbell coming back after this year with Spooner and Khokhlachev already looking like NHL caliber players. So with those two off the books that adds 2.2 million back so we have around 4.8 million left. I don't see Paille getting a raise as he will remain on the fourth line. The same goes for Florek who probably won't see enough time to command much of a raise so that does it for the NHL forwards under contract and we have about 4.8 million left.
The defense is where I see a large chunk of the new cap money going. With 4 defensemen needing new deals next season there is going to be a lot of money spent to keep us as one of the best defenses in the NHL. First up is Dougie Hamilton who is coming off of his rookie deal which means a substantial raise is in order for him. With 25 points in 64 games Hamilton has offensive upside and is learning his defensive game from one of the best in the game in Chara. I see Hamilton being around plus 20-25 with 35-45 points depending on how he plays on the power play to start the year. Those numbers are going to cost the Bruins even if they try to go with a bridge deal. To me a fair bridge deal would be around 3 to 3.5 million for the next two years if they are lucked but if Hamilton wants to get paid now he could look for a longer deal like a 4-5 year deal worth around 5 million. So il say best case Hamilton only takes up about 2.4 million of that 4.8 left. This brings us to Johnny Boychuk who has been in trade rumors all offseason. At 3.36 million Boychuk is a great deal but with the money being thrown at defensemen this offseason he's going to want to see some money coming his way. I don't see him asking for any less then 5 million a year since he is already thirty and this will likely be his last chance to make a good amount on a long term deal. So that is another 1.6 million gone leaving the Bruins with about $800,000 left. I don't see the Bruins bringing back McQuaid but if Bartkowski has a good year he will get a small raise so let's say we gain only about a million from McQuaid leaving 1.8 million left.
Now we move to the backup goalie position which could again go to Svedberg if he has a good year unless the Bruins want to see if Subban is ready to move up. Subban is more likely stay in the AHL just to make sure his development is complete with Rask already in place there is no need to rush him into the NHL. So with Svedberg returning he could see a raise from his 600,000 to a million so that is 400k gone. The Bruins will also have 12 AHL prospects becoming free agents so there will be a lot of sorting out to do this next seasons with very little room to do so. The Bruins will be left with around 1.4 million to fill out the roster bringing up AHL players to fill out the fourth line. With the first line still Lucic, Krejci, and Eriksson the second line still Marchand, Bergeron, and Smith. The third line will become Spooner, Soderberg and either Kelly, or Paille with First round pick David Pastrnak as a possibility depending on his development over the next year. Finally the fourth line consisting of Paille Khokhlachev and Florek or Fraser. So the Bruins will once again be against the cap ceiling even after letting go of a few players.
The biggest move that needs to happen between now and this time next year is the trading of Chris Kelly that 3 million dollar cap hit is killing the Bruins flexibility and will need to come off the books. So we should have around 4 million in cap space at best but at the cost of losing some local favorites and household names. This is why it is so hard to win in the NHL players come and go and it is hard to make all the right calls. The Bruins management has done a great job up to this point and unfortunately the trading or letting go of some players needs to happen in order for this team to continue to grow. We will miss having Campbell, Kelly and McQuaid they were players who knew what being a Bruin was all about whether finishing a shift with a broken leg or fighting the biggest guy on the ice to get the team going or killing penalties and winning key faceoffs they were up to the task. The good news coming out of this is expanded roles for Spooner, Miller and Khokhlachev as well as other Providence standouts. Keep checking back here to find out when some of these trades could take place as McQuaid and Kelly could be moved before the season even starts to clear space for the Krug and Smith deals.