Since the inception of the salary cap, talk has always surrounded the inability to keep together the dynasty. In Boston, it’s looking like we could be on the verge of seeing something special.
Personally, I’ve never been one to jump the gun. When the Bruins were dominating the League throughout November, I wondered often how long it could really last. When they finished the month without a regulation loss, I didn’t think it was a mirage, but maybe the result of one of those incredible hot streaks we see teams go on throughout the season year in and year out. Then December came, and the Bruins continued to win.
It’s January 9th. The Boston Bruins record is 27-10-1. Since the end of an October that saw every hockey fan scratching their head as to what was “wrong” in Boston, the Bruins have gone 24-3-1.
That’s good, right?
It’s not only the record that makes the Bruins scary; it’s also their offense. And their defense. And their goaltending.
When the breathtaking run the Bruins are on right now began, the B’s had a Goals For/Goals Against of 21/26, a meager -5. That was the Bruins in a tailspin, apparently, because since then the Bruins are +73.
That means since November began, the Bruins have outscored opponents 121 to 47. I’ll give you a second to process that.
So what about this makes the team have that dynasty feel? It’s not that they’ve already been handed the Cup, it’s that the Bruins still have $3 million to work with — and that’s just before the deadline when another $10 million is available. This can make the Bruins the first team since the Cap-era to build a team and be able to field it, year after year, with no significant changes and an abundance production from all their moving parts.
Taking a quick look at who the B’s are icing each night, and you’re not going to see a star studded lineup that makes you think of Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey, et al. Heck, you might not even think of them to be near a team with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Staal or Kane, Toews, Sharp, but where the Bruins excel? It’s depth. Just wait until the playoffs when depth is the buzzword and your favourite play-by-play professionals can’t shake the word from their vocabulary. It doesn’t take long to realize just how important it is.
Peter Chiarelli’s work at the Bruins’ helm is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of Cap management. In finding, utilizing, and developing talent, Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien have been able to put forth a lineup that includes Cap friendly contacts like Tyler Seguin’s entry level deal that has the team points leader (16-21-37) making $3.55 million dollars against the Bruins limit this year. Add to that Brad Marchand’s 32 points at $2.5 million and Rich Peverley’s 28 points at $1.3 million hit and you can see just how effective Chiarelli has been spending.
The thing that should most scare the opponents of the Bruins coming into the playoffs is that massive $13 million number. In an Eastern Conference that would have been all but the Bruins to lose if not for the “shaky” start in October, imagine what this team could look like if it were able to land a high priced asset at the deadline and still have money to spend.
Zach Parise could realistically end up in a Bruins uniform come Deadline Day
Although the list of players the Bruins could possibly add is endless (the Bruins could literally add any player in the league with $13 million in Cap room, whether they’re able to acquire said player is another story), two players we could be seeing in the black and gold come playoff time may be Shane Doan and Zach Parise (statistics for both players are listed below).
For Doan, his deal is up in Phoenix, ownership is rocky and another relocation is imminent. He’s one of the best players in the league right now not to have a Stanley Cup, especially at his age. He hasn’t even been able to really taste the playoffs. With the B’s, he could easily slot in on the third or fourth line and make the Bruins “grind lines” downright scary to play against.
As for Parise, the 26-year-old American sniper is in a contract year after some shaky negotiations with the Devils lead to a one-year contract being signed, and his leaving the Swamp seems like merely a matter of time. Parise’s $6 million would come off the books immediately when the Bruins season ends, be it with the second Cup in as many years or a disappointing playoff exit.
When Chiarelli goes hunting at the deadline, if he does at all (he may not want to mess with the teams chemistry), it will be for a contract that terminates at season’s end. Although the $13 million available carries over, the bulk of it will be used to re-sign the likes of Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly, and Tuukka Rask.
Not to throw even more figures at you, but keep this in mind as well: Tim Thomas’ $5 million contract comes off the books in 2013-14, the same season that both Seguin and Marchand enter into restricted free-agency, the same year that Andrew Ference will be looking for a new deal, and the same year the Milan Lucic’s deal expires. With the Cap showing no signs of going down in the near future, Chiarelli has almost set himself up perfectly.
General Managers around the League, take notice. Peter Chiarelli has built a winner, built it cheap, and has room to spare. The Cup champion this year may yet to be determined, but whether or not Chiarelli is the games most Cap conscious and capable GM is not.
Shane Doan — Cap Hit: $4.5 million — 42GP / 25P (12-13)
Zach Parise — Cap Hit: $6 million — 41GP / 35P (14-21)
(H/T to Cap Geek for the wonderful work on having all Salary Cap numbers so readily available)