Bruins’ Trades Help Future Salary Cap

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney traded for two Anaheim Ducks’ players in two separate deals before Monday’s trade deadline. Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie are not household names, but both hope to play a role for the Black and Gold in the playoffs.

In trading for Kase, Sweeney sent David Backes to the Ducks and retained 25 percent of his salary. He also sent prospect Axel Anderson and a first-round draft pick back to Anaheim.

Three days later, Sweeney sent Danton Heinen to the Ducks for Ritchie. Lost in the shuffle of the deals is the fact that Sweeney opened up cap space for the Bruins going forward.

Trades Make Cap Room

Trading Backes cleared up cap space for the Bruins, as he was owed $6 million on his contract after this year. In return, Kase has just a $2.6 million cap hit this season and next.

Anaheim Ducks' Ondrej Kase Calgary Flames Cam Talbot
Anaheim Ducks’ Ondrej Kase jumps in front of the puck next to Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Monday’s trade was a straight-up deal, Heinen for Ritchie. Heinen is signed through next season with a cap hit of $2.8 million. Ritchie is also under contract through next season and has a very team-friendly cap hit of $1.5 million. With that trade alone, the Bruins save $1.3 million. Saving money with the trades is big, because this summer is a big summer for the Bruins with their own free agents to-be.

2020 Bruins Free Agents

On July 1, the Bruins will have some key names eligible for free agency. Defensemen Torey Krug (unrestricted), Zdeno Chara (unrestricted) and Matt Grzelcyk (restricted), along with left-wing Jake DeBrusk (restricted) and backup goalie Jaroslav Halak (unrestricted) will be free agents.

Torey Krug Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The biggest name of that grouping is Krug. He is the most important free agent that Sweeney and the Bruins need to consider re-signing. At 28 years old, Krug has become one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. He has 8 goals and 34 assists this season. His value to the Bruins top power-play unit is crucial and one of the reasons why they rank second in the NHL. He plays the point on the man advantage and leads the team with 22 power-play assists. He has been a big reason why Pastrnak has 19 power-play goals by setting him up in the left circle for his one-timer slapshot.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

At 42 years old, the future of Chara might very well depend on what happens in the playoffs with the Bruins. If they win the Stanley Cup, then that would be the perfect time for him to walk away into retirement. If not, the Bruins must decide what to do with their captain. He is playing on a $2 million contract this season and has been just as valuable to the Bruins off the ice as he is on it, by mentoring the younger players.

Related: 7 Things About Zdeno Chara

DeBrusk has settled in on the second line with David Krejci as well as the first power-play unit as the fourth forward. He has 18 goals and 16 assists, including seven power-play goals and three assists. Quietly, an interesting decision Sweeney faces in the offseason with what to do with Halak.

Jaroslav Halak Boston Bruins
Jaroslav Halak, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Halak has posted a 16-6-6 record with a 2.42 goals-against average (GAA) and .918 save percentage (SV%) playing behind Tuukka Rask this season. He is 38-17-10 in two years in Boston with a .920 SV% and a 2.37 GAA. At 34 years old, if the Bruins can lock him up for a year or two behind Rask, he’s worth investing in.

With five pending free agents, any cap space that the Bruins can open up will only help. Krug is the top priority this summer and could get around $7 million annually. Sweeney and the Bruins would like to add pieces over the summer to a team that is in a win-now mode. Any cap space can only help this offseason when it’s time to crunch numbers and make important decisions.