I was listening to morning sports talk radio. They we're questioning the Bruins letting Jerome Iginla go to Colorado for $16 million over 3 years and if we should have offered a similar deal or let him go. First, I think Iginla deserved the contract he signed yesterday. He's on the tail end of his career and should be concerned about the financial well being of his family and having a home for it's stability for a period of more than one year. So I wish "Iggy" well and feel no ill will. Second, the cost would have hurt the organization longer term and ruined the plan that Bruins management has developed.
Had the Bruins signed Iginla, someone, perhaps as many as three players would have had to be moved, to accommodate his contract. Some say, we're giving up a 30 goal scorer, how do we replace that. I say, with moving other players, we would have given up more than 30 goals and the youth and promise of those players to score more in the future. Mark my words here; Iginla, may have just had his last 30 goal season. What if as a Bruin, he didn't score 30 goals or worst got injured and no where near 30 goals. What if he was unable to attain his stature as a proven goal scorer for all three years. There are no more compliance buy-outs after this season, it's over. We would be stuck with him. I for one, happen to think, Iggy has just had his last best season. There are a few things that went right for Iginla this season. After a slow start, not unusual for him, he started to find the net on a regular basis around Thanksgiving. Five of his goals were open netters, 1/6th. He had a three week rest in the second half of the season and scored 14 of his goals from that point forward. His leaving the team, has made the team faster in his absence, a big hit on why we didn't match up well with Montreal. We might have had to move Lucic or Marchand or both to get him. Roughly losing 45 goals in the process. No guarantee that we would have got 35-40 goals back with other players, especially if we had to move players to open up cap space. Why not move say McQuaid or Kelly? Would we really find takers who would give us anything substantial for them?? I say, Thank You Iggy, but it's time to move on and our experiment came up a little short. Back to the old plan with new tweaks.
How do we replace 30 goals? Well, we start with youth in the system. I think it likely that Justin Florek will replace Shawn Thornton and his 5 goals and maybe be able to score 10, +5. I think Loui Eriksson will score 25+ goals this coming year if healthy, that's 10+. I think Matt Fraser can make this team and score 12-15 goals, that's 10+. I think Karl Soderberg may break out this season and score 20-25 goals, that's 10+. I think that's how we replace Iginla, by committee. I also think that what held back the Bruins was an approach to replace the injured Dennis Seidenberg by committee and that was a mistake. You replace a Seidenberg if you can, that's the only way with those kind of minutes played. By the fact that we tried by committee, gave players like Miller, Bartkowski, Hamilton and Boychuk, new experience and value. I think they could do a better job of it if they had to after last years experience. We also gain that elusive "Speed" criteria by shifting to youth. Despite mentioning the above players, let's talk about where we find holes for fast developing players like Spooner, Lindblad and Khokhlachev. Players also known for their speed, but perhaps a little to early in the development process to handle the rigors of the Big Club right now.
Let us visit an area that many knowledgable fans feel is a problem on this team, Overpaid Players. Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Chris Kelly come to mind. Yesterday we saw stupid money thrown at mediocre players that don't have defined roles. Looking at players who will gain $5 million or more after this season, makes me think we have deals with Lucic and Marchand for what we pay them. They'll keep their value, but others that are low scale paid will be wanting raises next year. Soderberg, Krejci, Hamilton and Boychuk. If we have big bonus laden contracts this year, we take money off the table next year trying to retain these players. Be prepared to see players such as Paille, Campbell, McQuaid and Kelly go elsewhere next season as we retain these other players and give a chance to our youth down in Providence.
I happen to think we tried to do the right thing by retaining Iginla. But, the numbers and cost didn't add up and could have hurt the build for the future by retaining Iginla at any cost. I commend Peter Chiarelli and his staff for seeing this and acting accordingly. As Bruins fans, we tend to get caught up in numbers and stats; dream teams and line combos. We have a very professional group of hockey managers and minds behind the team and it's their job to put a competitive team on the ice every year, not just next year. Everyone can see how teams are improving and building in the Western Conference. I say let them build, if we go to the Stanley Cup Finals, after they fight through themselves, we only have to beat one team. In the Eastern Conference, I think we have the best goaltender and if we re-sign Krug and Bartkowski, the best defense with depth and mobility. We have quality penalty killers 3-4 pairs in depth, two solid power play units and great 5 on 5 players. We add speed and depth as we can and tweak the team as it moves forward. I still think the teams in our conference are adjusting to playing our team, because they believe we are the team to beat. I agree with those General Managers on other teams.
Until Next Time!