With the recent signings of Reilly Smith and Torey Krug, Bruins' GM Peter Chiarelli solidified his top two lines and one of his power play quarterbacks. Chiarelli signed these two important players to team-friendly deals and the Bruins are now $400,000 under the cap. While this is a short-term solution for Boston, Chiarelli would still like to get some breathing room before the season starts.
According to a recent article by Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs), Peter Chiarelli used Krug and Smith's situation to save the team money. Both Krug and Smith were not able to go to arbitration and make the same salaries the current market dictates for their production. Chiarelli knew he had the advantage and used it to sign both players without breaking the bank.
Many praised Chiarelli for signing both Krug and Smith without trading any of his defensemen. However, the back-end is very crowded and it may only be a matter of time until he pulls the trigger. NHL-caliber defensemen are highly valued commodities and the Bruins' GM will continue to work the phones over the next week.
The two best candidates for a trade are Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski. According to capgeek.com, McQuaid and Bartkowski have salaries of $1.57 and $1.25 million respectively. Shedding one of these salaries would certainly give the Bruins some wiggle room to re-sign a player or make a trade later in the season. If you polled Bruins fans, many would rather see Bartkowski go. He made some critical mistakes in the playoffs last season and McQuaid has the experience and toughness the Bruins need on the blue line. However, McQuaid has some risks associated with him as well. The 27-year-old has an extensive injury history and the last thing the Bruins want is McQuaid's salary burning a hole on their roster.
In that same article on csnne.com by Joe Haggerty, Peter Chiarelli was quoted saying "I know the capologists out there like to speculate,”. “[Trading salary] would be prudent. That would be the most prudent [move], but I’m not going to force anything. Our players are good players. They have had success, and I’d hate to move any of them". Unfortunately for the Bruins' GM, the 2015 offseason has possibly 15 players going into free agency, including Smith and Krug, who will be able to go to arbitration as restricted free agents. The Bruins will also have to deal with players like Johnny Boychuk, Carl Soderberg, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski (assuming they both stay in Boston) being unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
As the salaries of other players around the NHL go up, the asking price from current Bruins will as well. Peter Chiarelli did a good job keeping his core players and signing Smith and Krug to team-friendly deals. But he isn't out of the woods yet. The expectations continue to be very high in Boston and last year's early playoff exit puts more pressure on everyone in the organization. Chiarelli has temporarily solidified his roster, but this is a very important year for the present and future of the team.