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There was an outcry when Johnny Boychuk was traded to the New York Islanders before the season began. Some questioned the timing and some questioned the value received in return. Not surprisingly, given the Bruins’ defensive struggles, the outcry still remains today. Bruins fans loved this guy and he loved them back. So why was he traded in the first place? Many fans claim they didn’t need to trade Boychuk. Is that really the case? I attempt to figure it out.

The simple answer is yes.

It’s important to note that the Bruins had to manipulate the roster in order to maximize Savard’s LTIR (also keep in mind that Savard’s career is pretty much over, so LTIR room is basically cap space for the Bruins). The trick here was to get the 23 man roster as close to the cap as possible. Here is how the LTIR works:

For example, let’s say that the cap is 70 million and that the Bruins had 3 million in cap space. A player making 4 million in cap hit gets injured and is placed on LTIR. Then the Bruins would have flexibility to spend up to 71 million, because there were 3 million in cap space available from the Bruins to get to the upper limit of 70. The remainder is 1 million, meaning the team could spend up to 71 million.

Keeping the LTIR process in mind, in the following proposed scenario, the Bruins would have had to figure out two things. First was how to fit Johnny Boychuk in the cap at the beginning of the season. Second was a bit easier, which was to figure out which waiver exempt guys to call up for opening night (and send back down).

Let’s take a look at the opening night roster:

Bruins Cap: 64,220,500 (69,000,000 – bonus overage of 4,779,500)

Forwards
(Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Craig Cunningham, Loui Eriksson, Brian Ferlin, Matt Fraser, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Bobby Robins, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner)

**David Krejci on IR, Gregory Campbell & Anthony Camara on Non-Roster IR (Camara was not on the NHL Active Roster after the trade deadline last season, so I believe he isn’t counted toward the cap)

Defensemen
(Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug)

Goaltenders
(Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg)

Room w/ Savard on LTIR: $661,333

So the game here seems pretty simple, the Bruins would have had to clear about $3,400,000 million in space to make Boychuk fit.

Here is a potential scenario.

Send down:
-Malcolm Subban ($863,333 salary, $600,000 bonuses)
-Brian Ferlin ($875,000 salary, $50,000 bonuses)
-Ryan Spooner ($760,000 salary, $110,000 bonuses)

Trade/waive:
-Adam McQuaid ($1,566,667)

Replace with:
Johnny Boychuk ($3,366,667)

Room w/ Savard on LTIR: around 698,333 (depending on how roster is manipulated)
Bonus: $600,000

With the proposed transactions, you are looking at 14 forwards (3 injured), 7 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders to start opening night. That would mean no depth  forwards on your roster until Krejci or Campbell returns. Even then, if another player gets injured, it would have been difficult to create the necessary room for another player.The Bruins would have $698,333 in cap space, with the bonus of $600,000 (from Hamilton) shadowing over the little remaining room (basically Bruins would have $98,333 in cap space – if they go over, there will be another overage penalty for next year). The Bruins certainly don't want another penalty for next year.

Obviously this would strap the Bruins for any future moves, in case of injuries or future transactions. It puts a strangle hold on any type of flexibility. Boychuk had no clauses, so it made it much easier to trade him. The Bruins brass didn't seem to think Boychuk was in their future plans. They were confident that Miller or McQuaid could step their game up. In the end, however, it was Boychuk who stepped his game up with a new team.

Of course, the Bruins brass could have explored trades for Kelly (limited NTC, has to supply 8 team trade list) for limited value or get rid of veterans like Campbell and Paille to create more cap space. That, however, would have meant rolling with around 3-5 rookies in your opening night lineup. I don’t think the Bruins wanted to do that, even if it meant keeping Boychuk.

In the end, the Bruins valued the services of guys like Kelly and Campbell over Boychuk. As you can see, it would have been pretty difficult to find a way to make Boychuk fit. The Bruins also probably didn’t think they had a chance to re-sign him at the price that they wanted, so in the end, they traded him for good value and to clear cap. Trading Boychuk for cap was a bad reason to trade him, but it’s time for the fans to let it go.

If you ask me what I would have done though, after the proposed transactions from above:

Room w/ Savard on LTIR: around 698,333

Trade Matt Bartkowski ($1,250,000)

Call up David Warsofsky ($600,000)

That would give the Bruins a little more flexibility.

Call up Caron ($600,000) to be the 12th forward.

Then they would have a little bit of depth until Campbell and Krejci’s return. After they return:

Waive Caron  ($600,000) to be at around 1.3 million under the cap.

The Bruins would have had 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goaltenders after that to start the season.

One can only wonder.


All salary numbers via Capgeek web archive


Read more from Andy Hwang by clicking here. Find him on Twitter on @andyhwang05 and follow @BruinsLife for all Bruins news and updates.

Andy Hwang 3/12/2015 09:06:00 AM Edit

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