The Bruins were quick to scoop up Jarome Iginla on the NHL’s first day of free agency last summer, signing the future Hall of Famer to a one year deal worth up to $6 million. The move came as a bit of surprise, considering Iginla had chosen the Penguins over the Bruins just three months earlier.
Viewed as a replacement for Nathan Horton, Iginla was penciled in as the first line right winger, skating alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Although it took nine games for Iginla to secure his first goal as a Boston Bruin, he was quick to develop chemistry with his new linemates. Once he had netted his first goal, the points started coming in bunches.
This summer, the Bruins will need to negotiate a new contract with Iginla, retaining the services of their top line right winger.
On the player’s side of the table, Iginla has enjoyed his time in Boston. His individual production has more than justified the contract that he signed with the Bruins. The veteran winger finds himself on the verge of a playoff run, just his eighth trip to the dance in his 19 year career. When he left Calgary, his intention was to win a Stanley Cup. It’s hard to argue that Boston is not the right location for Iginla.
From the team’s perspective, negotiations will be a bit more difficult. The Bruins signed Iginla to a one year deal last summer, featuring a base salary of $1.8 million, with up to $4.2 million in bonuses. Due in large part to the stellar campaign Iginla is turning in (along with Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton), the Bruins appear destined to go over the bonus cushion for this season. Worst case scenario, the Bruins end up carrying over $4-5 million in bonus overage to their 2014-2015 salary cap. This overage would act as dead cap space, limiting the Bruins flexibility.
This offseason will see Iginla, Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Reilly Smith, Shawn Thornton, and Chad Johnson reach free agency in one way or another. Iginla will be one of the top priorities, considering how big a role he has with the team. Prior to the aforementioned bonus penalty, the Bruins appear set to have approximately $9 million in cap space, with Marc Savard’s cap hit included. Savard’s cap hit will likely offset most of the Bruins carry-over bonus money, leaving the Bruins with approximately $8-9 million in cap space. Having made $6 million this season (maximum), it’s hard to envision Iginla taking a significant pay-cut following a stellar season.
The good news is that the Bruins will be able to re-sign Iginla (financially) if they prioritize his deal over the other players that are reaching free agency. Their cause is aided by Iginla’s success and happiness in Boston, providing the team with the slightest bit of hope that he’ll take a discount to stay in town. Also working in the Bruins favor is the fact that they are still in possession of their amnesty buyout. This gives the team the option to buy out one player without any salary cap ramifications. If the team decides to deploy this tactic, a player like Chris Kelly might be a target, as his $3 million cap hit could be extremely useful.
So what would a potential deal look like for Iginla? To reduce the excess bonus penalty, Iginla could see a raise in his base pay, something like $3 million for the year. In turn, his bonuses would come down from a maximum value of $4.2 million this season to a maximum value of $3 million next season. That would leave the Bruins ample room to re-sign Krug and Smith, while potentially dealing a player like Matt Bartkowski.
If you were Peter Chiarelli, how far would you go to re-sign Jarome Iginla? Would you be willing to sacrifice a player on the current roster to clear space to bring back Iginla? Let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter @kirkvance.