Dumping Chris Kelly opens things up for Sweeney to sign some key guys this offseason.
He’s 34-years-old and only produced 28 points while soaking up a critical $3 million worth of the Bruins’ cap space last season.
I know Chris Kelly is a two-way forward. Most of his value lies in the defensive zone, killing penalties, and putting a few pucks past the goaltender when he can (which was only seven times last season).
But the value of a two-way forward in Boston is going down, especially in an era where the Bruins are lagging behind offensively, only scoring 209 goals during the 2014-2015 campaign. The only teams the Bruins led in the goals for category last year were Toronto, Florida, Edmonton, Carolina, New Jersey, Arizona, and Buffalo – not very good company.
Re-signing Boston’s Free Agents
The Bruins are closing in on a $59 million cap hit for 2015 with Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Adam McQuaid, Ryan Spooner, and Brett Connolly still unsigned.
Hamilton is first on Don Sweeney’s list to re-sign, without a doubt, and is expected to land some big bucks. Ryan Spooner is expected to be signed easily, having yet to play a full season in the NHL. Brett Connolly should follow suit with a fairly affordable contract, and you could see Adam McQuaid going for around the same price as the $4.7 million contract he signed with the Bruins just three years ago.
With the Salary Cap expected to level off around $71 million next season, per league commissioner Gary Bettman, the signings I mentioned are realistic.
Gary Bettman: NHL Salary Cap Will Climb To $71 Million Next Season http://t.co/Ug9KJaElAm
— 98.5 The Sports Hub (@985TheSportsHub) May 22, 2015
Carl Soderberg is coming off not one, but two solid seasons for an NHL center. During the 2013-2014 campaign, he tallied 48 points. This, bolstered by another 44 this past season, has sufficiently upped the 29-year-old unrestricted free agent’s stock in the NHL especially considering the thin free agency pool this offseason.
Soderberg indicated that he is looking to hear an offer from Boston first before potentially testing the waters of free agency. Clearing Kelly’s contract, for pick(s) or prospect(s), makes signing Soderberg a more feasible feat for Sweeney.
A Sketch of the 2015-2016 Bruins
Perhaps you’re still unconvinced that Kelly should be shipped out of Boston this offseason. If that’s the case take this into consideration:
Reilly Smith struggled last season, scoring seven goals and eleven points fewer than he did during his 2013-2014 debut with the Bruins. But the Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line deserves another chance, at least in this writer’s opinion. And, if it doesn’t work out, Pastrnak, Connolly, or Eriksson could be tested on that line with Smith dropping to the second or third line.
Next you have Lucic-Krejci-Eriksson as a potential second line. If Lucic can get back to his physical roots and Eriksson can continue upon his strong showing last season (22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points) that line could produce – big time.
If Sweeney is able to nail down a deal with Soderberg, he could easily center the third line with Pastrnak to his right and Connolly to his left. Connolly is a right winger by trade but has the ability to play on the left side as well.
For your fourth line, you would have Talbot and Spooner with the winner of a heated training camp battle between gritty forwards such as Anthony Camara and Brian Ferlin taking left wing duties. Talbot and Camara/Ferlin are natural fourth liners who add an element of toughness to the Bruins – something they lacked last season. Spooner, meanwhile, adds speed and an offensive kick to the line, and can still improve upon his defensive skills seeing as though he is just 22-years-old.
As for defense, the Bruins would be in good hands with a healthy Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, and Zdeno Chara (knock on wood). With them also comes seasoned veteran Dennis Seidenberg and youngsters Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton looking to continue developing into top-four defensemen.
Trading Chris Kelly would be a good first move for GM Don Sweeney in an attempt to create cap room and, in turn, create a stronger Boston team going forward.
Do you think the Bruins should trade Chris Kelly? What do you think they could get in return?