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Crickets and tumbleweeds. Welcome to the front office of the Boston Bruins.
But then again, this shouldn’t surprise you. The Bruins are broke. Even with a handful of minor signings last weekend -- the B’s re-upped AHLers David Warsofsky
(though they expect him to push for an NHL job in 2014) Tommy Cross
, Tyler Randell
, Craig Cunningham
, Zach Trotman
and big-body prospect and playoff contributor Justin Florek
-- the landscape of the 2014-15 Bruins hasn’t changed. Florek could be in the Hub, sure, but his $600,000 cap-hit really won’t break the bank one way or another.
And if Florek’s in the NHL picture in 2014-15 (and with Marc Savard
’s $4 million cap-hit on the long-term injured reserve), the Bruins have $3.218 million left to re-sign Torey Krug
, Reilly Smith
, and sign a right winger to add some scoring. The latter is not a necessity -- in fact it’s probably more of a luxury given their cap situation -- but it’d really put some Black-and-Gold enthusiasts at ease as everybody around them in the Atlantic (lookin’ at you, Tampa) gets better.
So, I mean, what’s going on? Honestly, at this point, I really don’t know.
They need/want bargains, and just over three weeks into free agency, they’ve signed none.
, a right-handed shot that could fit in on the third line if the Bruins are comfortable with moving Loui Eriksson
up to the first line, could’ve been a fit. He instead ended up with the New York Rangers for a cool $900,000. Maybe the Bruins weren’t too impressed with Stempniak’s brief tenure with Pittsburgh -- where he amassed just six goals and 14 points in a combined 34 games between the regular season and playoffs -- and felt that he couldn’t seize a spot on the top line with David Krejci
if he couldn’t do that with Sidney Crosby
(Though that didn’t stop the B’s from signing Jarome Iginla
last summer -- but Stempniak’s not Iginla, Iginla played left wing in Pittsburgh, blah blah, and we’re quickly losing our focus here.)
Moving on over, you’d think that the Bruins would be into the idea of bringing the 26-year-old Peter Mueller
in on a one-year ‘prove that you’re healthy and can contribute’ type of deal.
Mueller led the Swiss league in goals in 2013-14 with the Kloten Flyers, and finished second in points. Now, he’s an obvious reclamation project, no doubt, and though he scored just eight goals and 17 points in 43 games for the Florida Panthers two years back, there’d be no real pressure for the Minnesota-born forward to light the world on fire given Boston’s new-found offensive top-nine. And that’s without mentioning the fact that Boston plays a system and style known for putting NHLers back on the map (Michael Ryder
, Benoit Pouliot
, Brian Rolston
But there appears to be no interest in Mueller -- who’s had NHL stints with the Coyotes, Avalanche, and Panthers over a turbulent career headlined by concussion problems -- from Boston’s camp.
Even affordable veteran options like David Booth
and Daniel Winnik
ended up elsewhere on more-than-cap-friendly one-year contracts.
There’s not much of anything from the Black-and-Gold’s camp, in fact.
Now, there’s been obvious trade chatter centering around the B’s defensive situation. With Matt Bartkowski
signed to a one-year, $1.25 million contract two weeks ago, the Bruins have seven defensemen signed to their NHL roster, and that’s without Krug signed. Krug’s an obvious part of their defensive picture, too, so somebody’s gotta go. And I’ll be absolutely shocked if they’re willing to pay either Bartkowski or Adam McQuaid
($1.56 million and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season) to skate as a sixth defenseman or seventh defenseman, for that matter. One of them -- seemingly anyways -- is heading elsewhere before the start of the season.
Until that happens, though, the B’s seem stuck. Does one of those defenders bring you an affordable asset back in return? Possibly. But teams in the market for defensemen don’t have to turn to Boston alone; Anaheim has their share of defensemen, as do the cap-strung Blackhawks. It seems, to the naked eye anyways, that teams could get more of a sure-bet return for some of the guys in those cities than they could for an injury-riddled McQuaid or undeniably-still-developing Bartkowski.
Here’s what we know-- the Bruins have to do something.
Here’s what we don’t know-- What, when, how, and why.
Let the dog days drag on…
Ty Anderson has been covering the Boston Bruins for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, is a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com