2021 NHL offseason: Bruins free agents, salary cap space and roster recap
The full list of Bruins' free agents prior to the crucial off-season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The offseason started earlier than expected for the Boston Bruins.
The Bs looked like a team that could take a deep run in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but a second-round knockout of the New York Islanders in six games put an end to Boston's pursuit of another championship.
Take away game 6: Terrible second period, broken blue line costs Bruins
This off-season is crucial for the Bruins. Some of their top veterans, including the # 2 center and the starting goalkeeper for the past decade, can become unrestricted free agents. Boston also has a few notable players who are restricted free agents.
The Bruins have about $ 27 million in salary cap, but they have plenty of players of their own who are considering signing up. The Bs could free up additional cap space by swapping a player or two. One candidate to be postponed is Jake DeBrusk, who signed for another season with a cap hit of $ 3.675 million. A disappointing 2020/21 season for DeBrusk made it clear that he is not a true top six winger.
Here is an overview of the free agents and the Bruins' salary cap (all salary information via CapFriendly).
UNLIMITED FREE AGENTS
2020-21 stats: 8 G, 36 A in 51 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 7.25 million
Krejci had a strong regular season with 44 points in 51 games. Also in the playoffs he was productive with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in eleven games. The Bruins will have to re-sign Krejci on a short-term deal with less money than his previous deal. Why? Well, they don't have a player capable of stepping into the # 2 central role. Charlie Coyle isn't a player of that caliber and top prospect Jack Studnicka isn't ready yet.
2020-21 stats: 4 G, 5 A in 47 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 1.275 million
Kuraly didn't have a great regular season and he was even worse in the playoffs. He had zero points and only 12 shots in 11 games. Kuraly also received a few bad penalties in the second round series against the Islanders. A younger player to take on the role of Kuraly next season would be ideal for the Bruins. Trent Frederic (more on him below) is the best option right now.
Position: Left Wing
2020-21 stats: 10 G, 23 A in 53 GP (8 G, 6 A in 16 GP with B's)
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 4 million
Similar to Krejci, the B's basically have no choice but to re-sign Hall. They desperately need a winger named Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak who can score goals. Your depth of hit on the wings outside the front row is brutal. Craig Smith is a very good player, but he doesn't have Hall's abilities.
Hall didn't play well against the Islanders, with only one empty goal and one assist in six games. But that doesn't change the fact that it fitted well into the Bruins' system after they bought it at the close of trading on April 12th. Hall has also expressed a desire to stay in Boston beyond 2021.
As I outlined in May, here are some good comparable contracts for similar wingers Hall's age:
Max Pacioretty, VGK: Four year, $ 28 million ($ 7 million cap hit) signed in 2018
James van Riemsdyk, PHI: Five Years, $ 35 million ($ 7 million cap hit) signed in 2017)
Anders Lee, NYI: Seven year, $ 49 million ($ 6.5 million cap hit) signed in 2019
Chris Kreider, NYR: Seven years, $ 45.5 million ($ 6.5 million cap hit) signed in 2020
Brendan Gallagher, MTL: Six year, $ 39 million ($ 6.5 million cap hit) signed in 2020
Cam Atkinson, CBJ: Seven years, $ 41.125 million ($ 5.875 million cap hit) signed in 2017
2020-21 Stats: 0 G, 27 A in 55 GP (0 G, 8 A in 15 GP for B's)
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 1.5 million
Reilly was great for the B's in the regular season after they took him over from the Senators at close of trade. The playmaking skills and the skilled defender's ability to run out of trouble and start the transition onto the ice with a good first pass from the defensive zone proved valuable. Reilly wasn't as effective in the playoffs. He is ideally a # 4 or # 5 defender on a competing team. The Bruins really need depth on the blue line but can't afford to overpay Reilly. His future is probably one of the more difficult decisions the team has to make.
2020-21 stats: 1 G, 3 A in 28 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 1.25 million
Signing Miller again was a mistake. There has been nothing in recent years to suggest the B's could count on him to be healthy and available late in the season. Miller played well for the B's but his injury history is a big problem. It's time to move on to a more reliable defender from a health standpoint.
Statistics for 2020-21:
2020-21 Salary Cap: $ 700,000
Tinordi was a profound commitment and unfortunately for the Bruins, injuries to Carlo and Miller forced the veteran D-Man into a role he was not fit for the postseason. As with Miller, the Bruins are set to replace Tinordi with a younger and more talented defender.
2020-21 stats: 15-5-2, 0.913 SV%, 2.28 GAA in 24 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 7 million
Rask wasn't 100 percent healthy in the playoffs and that clearly affected him. He also didn't play well in the second round series against the Islanders, scoring a save percentage of 0.867 and a GAA of 2.86 in six games. What are the Bruins supposed to do with Rask? I'll explain it right here.
2020-21 stats: 9-6-4, 0.905 SV% and 2.53 GAA in 19 GP
2020-21 Salary Cap: $ 2.25 million
Halak lost his backup job to rookie goalkeeper Jeremy Swayman in 2021. The veteran netminder has done an excellent job in his role over the past three seasons, but it's time the Bruins gave Swayman (and maybe even Daniel Vladar) more opportunities in the NHL level next season and beyond.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Position: right wing
2020-21 stats: 0 G, 0 A in 3 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 2.6 million
The Bs acquired Kase before the 2020 trading deadline, but injuries prevented it from making any significant impact. He's only played nine games with the Bruins. Shelf life problems with cheese are also nothing new. During his over three seasons in Anaheim, he missed many games with the Ducks. There's no point in bringing him back for more than $ 1.75 million a year. So, unless the B's can re-sign Kase super cheap, it would be best to part ways.
Position: Left Wing
2020-21 stats: 15 G, 11 A in 56 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 1.498 million
Ritchie scored 15 goals in his career that season, but eight of them in their first 21 games. In the playoffs he was largely ineffective with one goal in 11 games. Ritchie is expendable, but the Bruins should re-sign him anyway as they don't have many good internal options for the bottom six. Signing Ritchie and trading him in as part of a package for an upgrade would be the ideal scenario for the B's.
2020-21 stats: 4 G, 1 A in 42 GP
2020-21 Salary Cap: $ 925,000
Frederic was a first-round pick in 2016 (29th overall) and the Bruins should try to sign him again for a cheap second contract. The size, energy and physicality that he brings on the ice would be valuable to the fourth line. Ideally, he will aggressively take a step forward in 2021/22 and establish himself as the center of the fourth line instead of Kuraly.
2020-21 stats: 1 G, 3 A in 27 GP
Salary cap reached in 2020-21: $ 2.85 million
Carlo is a legitimate top 4 defender who can play more than 20 minutes per game against the opponent's best strikers and win those matchups. He's also a very good penalty killer and brings much needed size and physicality to the blue line of the B.
The problem with Carlo is durability. He's suffered multiple concussions in his career, including one in February that cost him a good portion of the regular season. He was also knocked out of the second round in Game 3 when he took a hard but clean hit from Cal Clutterbuck, the Islanders forward.
A two-year bridge deal that includes a nice raise would be the best move for the Bruins. A long-term bond with Carlo given his injury concerns could backfire.
OTHER BRUINS FREE AGENTS
Cameron Hughes (C / LW), RFA
Steven Kampfer (D), UFA
Nick Wolff (D), RFA
Callum stand (G), RFA
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