The Boston Bruins fell one win short of their Stanley Cup aspirations and have now joined every other team in the offseason. They have bunch on their plate to deal with, a few UFA’s to sign or let walk and a few RFA’s that are going to need contracts. Right now the Bruins have about $14 million in cap space for next season.
On the UFA front the Bruins have Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari looking for new contracts. Both played well during their playoff run and held important responsibilities. Johansson fit in very well with the Bruins third line and quickly found chemistry with Coyle and Heinen and was able to tack on 11 points in 22 games. On top of that his line generated a bunch of scoring opportunities. The Bruins had been looking for third line scoring all season and with the additions of Coyle and Johansson they finally got it. Now Johansson is still young and could likely be out of the Bruins price range, with some in house contracts to deal with first they’ll have to wait and see if they have money left for Johansson but at the moment it looks doubtful. Acciari has been an anchor on the Bruins fourth line for the past couple seasons and has provided a steady defensive presence. He’s not gonna light up the scoresheet and has only tallied 31 points in his 180 games in a Bruins sweater. Acciari could likely return on a cheap deal if the Bruins’ wanted to get him back, but with a fourth line already set up in Wagner-Kuraly-Nordstrom they could save themselves some coin by not tendering him an offer. With those two being their only UFA’s the Bruins are in good shape for next season.
In terms of RFA’s the Bruins have a strong group looking for new deals in McAvoy, Carlo and Heinen. Heinen is a young controllable asset and he has served many roles over his few seasons with the Bruins. He’s seen time on almost every line combination and has found decent success at the NHL level. He’s been able to 81 points in his 162 game NHL career, and notched 9 points in 33 playoff games. Heinen is a versatile asset and will likely remain that way. He did find good chemistry on that third line in the playoffs and looked comfortable alongside Charlie Coyle. The best comparable deal for Heinen is the deal Alex Killorn received from the Lightning a few years ago, 7 years at $4.5 million. While Heinen may not get a 7 year deal the money is right in the ballpark, Killorn had similar points and career games at the time of his deal. Next on the list the Bruins need to lock up the future of their blue line in Carlo and McAvoy. Carlo has been a great defensive defenseman for the Bruins and has played well while paired with Krug. Carlo even lit up the scoresheet a bit more this year notching 22 points this year. Carlo is a big physical force who can also skate pretty well. He drew some tough tasks during the course of the playoffs and always seemed to come out on top. With very few defenseman like him it was tough to find a comparable contract, the best comparison seemed to be Brady Skjei’s deal that he signed last year. Skjei received a 6 year deal worth $5.25 million a year. This is a reasonable deal for Carlo and the Bruins, Skjei may have had a few more points than Carlo but their time on ice and matchup numbers are very similar.
Lastly, Charlie McAvoy is in need of a new contract, he’s been on the Bruins top pairing with Chara for the past two seasons. McAvoy has proved himself worthy of being a top defender in the NHL and has been able to shut down other team’s top lines consistently. Not only that but he’s no slouch on the offensive side either with 60 points in his 117 games played. McAvoy recently stated he “wants to stay in Boston forever.” McAvoy would likely get a deal similar to Ekblad’s contract of 8 years at $7.5 million. Both of them matchup well in numbers and have been top pairing guys their whole careers. However, McAvoy and the Bruins might settle on a bridge deal for now with short term and a lower value just so the Bruins can handle their cap space and potentially sign Mac to a bigger deal in a couple years.
With the offseason just starting the Bruins have plenty of time to make their signing and even make some trades if they choose. Ideally the Bruins are looking to rid themselves of David Backes’ contract but that will come at a steep price. Along with Backes they could look to move Miller or Moore to free up space but with those two both recovering from surgeries it is doubtful they will be moved before the season starts as they need to be proven healthy. The Bruins will return with mostly the same team next year and hope to make their way back into the Stanley Cup Final but with a different result this time.
-Tyler Smith (@TylerSmith4386)