Last offseason, many were wondering what the future held for Bruins netminder Tim Thomas. He was set to turn 37 during the season, and he had three years left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5 million. Factoring in that he was coming off hip surgery after losing the starting job to Tuukka Rask months before, it was a very uncertain future for the one-time Vezina winner.
Now, Thomas has updated that classification to two-time Vezina winner (he’ll get it in a few days) and Conn Smythe winner, not to mention that whole Stanley Cup thing.
Despite the fact that he continues to get up there in age, $5 million a year for someone who is now a Boston legend isn’t so bad for two years. Still, Thomas was able to claim the starting job this season because Claude Julien always will play the better goalie. That means it’s very possible that Thomas could split time close to evenly with Rask next year, or he could repeat his play from his record-setting season and once again be the man for the B’s.
Here’s a look at the future of the rest of the Stanley Cup champion Bruins:
Without speculating too much, it’s hard to imagine Savard continuing his career given his treacherous experience with concussions, and could you blame him for hanging them up? Assuming the B’s petition for it, he will have his name on the Stanley Cup, and he’ll have a chance at resuming the rest of his life without major issues from the head injuries. It’s a shame that he’s had to go through what the last two seasons have held for him.
If Savard does retire, the B’s will have some money to play with. The two-time All-Star center has six years remaining on his contract, which carries a $4 million cap hit annually.
Kaberle is an outstanding passer, and, as was seen in his time here in the regular season and the first three rounds, not much else. Defensively, he can get outmuscled, and his turnovers were of lowlight-reel quality. Every time he messes up, it’s glaring, and it becomes a popular topic.
That’s why, given his status as a free agent, he might be back next year.
Given all that they gave up for Kaberle, and the fact that his postseason was overall poor, the Bruins may have seen enough of Kaberle in his solid finals performance (and the fact that he led all Bruins defensemen in postseason points) to be willing to take advantage of the fact that he could come with a low price tag. It seemed when the B’s acquired him on Feb. 18 for Joe Colborne, a first-round pick and a second round pick (which kicked in when the B’s made the finals), that he might command something like $4 million a year. This postseason exposed his shortcomings, such as his below-average skating. Assuming some team doesn’t get crazy, he shouldn’t cost much more than $2.75 million. If he does cost a good chunk more than that, toodles. The Bruins are fortunate enough to have Steven Kampfer waiting to step in should Kaberle not return. At this point, the B’s should only bring Kaberle back if it’s for the right price.
After a relatively quiet first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci came alive in the second round, as he generally does against Philadelphia. Following a second round in which he had two more points than the Flyers had goals, Krejci had 13 points in the final 14 games of the postseason.
The thing with Krejci will always be consistency. He can run hot and cold, but it seems that when it matters most, you could burn your hand on the water. If he can string together more consistency during the regular season, there’s no reason to think he can surpass his career-high 73 points from 2008-09 just in time for restricted free agency next summer.
The 23-year-old led the Bruins with 30 goals in the regular season, and though the B’s would probably hope that the likes of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin will join him in that club next year, knowing that they have their top scorer for at least two more years (At a $4.083 cap hit each season) before he hits restricted free agency is big.
Lucic could be a player who is up for a letter on his uniform given the retirement of Mark Recchi.
The bad thing about the timing of Horton’s concussion in Game 3 was that it knocked him out for the remainder of the finals. The good thing is that he has the whole offseason to recover. Next season, a healthy Horton should be counted on provide more in the regular season than he did in his 26-goal Boston debut.
The Bruins have Horton under contract for two more years with a $4 million cap hit. He earned his money by establishing himself as a clutch player with two game-winning Game 7 goals this postseason.
Recchi will ride off into the sunset after wrapping up a Hall of Fame career. The 43-year-old finishes his 22-year career with 577 goals and 956 assists for 1,533 points in 1,632 contests and three Stanley Cup championships.
That slapping sound you just heard was Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely high-fiving over the fact that they re-upped Bergeron before the season.
The B’s tossed a three-year, $15 million extension Bergeron’s way prior to the season’s first game, and while such a deal seemed a bit steep at the time, the fact of the matter is that he would have gotten more had he hit free agency, as he was set to do this summer. There were plenty of good teams with the cap space to knock his socks off (Tampa Bay, Montreal), so the B’s were wise to keep their second-line center off the open market.
The Bruins are fortunate to have Bergeron in the fold, especially with Recchi retiring. Both Bergeron and Zdeno Chara epitomize leading by example.
Marchand earned himself quite a bit of money with the rookie season he turned in. After scoring 21 goals in his first full season, the 23-year-old now is a restricted free agent, and the guess here is that he should command something in the $3 million range.
Marchand isn’t the type of player the Bruins typically have had — he’s as big a wiseguy on the ice as it gets, he’s been known to embellish a bit and Julien has certainly had a few talks with him to make sure he doesn’t cross the line with his on-ice etiquette. Still, there is no more driven a player than Marchand, and his tireless work ethic shows on the ice. As much as his mouth might get him trouble, he sets a hell of an example for younger players with his motor.
Here’s an interesting one, as it is very difficult to gauge how much money Ryder, an unrestricted free agent, may get from a team. He had only one 20-goal season over the course of his three-year, $12 million contract, but his postseason may have convinced some team to toss a few more bucks his way.
As for whether the Bruins should want him back, the vote here is yes. Ryder’s rapport with Tyler Seguin is strong, and if the Bruins can get him for around half of what they’ve given him the last three years, they should consider it. Of course, one would think that Jordan Caron should be getting a chance to become an everyday player as well, so the Ryder situation will be one worth monitoring in the coming month.
Chiarelli wasn’t given enough credit for making sure the forwards he acquired at the deadline were both for relatively cheap money and had another year on their deals. Such was the case with Kelly and Rich Peverley, and given that Kelly earns just over $2 millon next season, he provides fine value on the third line. The question is this: If both he and Seguin are on the third line next season, who is playing center?
“Perv,” as he is so lovingly called by Marchand, can contribute wherever he plays in the lineup, whether as a fourth-line plugger or as a first-line right winger in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. As a result, his $1.325 cap hit in the final year of his deal shows that Chiarelli was on to something when he moved Blake Wheeler as part of the deal for Peverley.
With Recchi retiring, Peverley is an obvious candidate to take his spot on the second line. Peverley played on that line at points as the playoffs wore on.
How in the world did the Bruins win the Cup without Julien putting Seguin on the power play each night? In fact, how did they win any games?
All kidding aside, being the most talented player on the Stanley Cup champion Bruins is nothing to sneeze at. As long as he gets more comfortable with the physical stuff, it will be a matter of when, not if, Seguin is among the top goal-scorers in the league.
The question, of course, is whether he will get used to physicality and how long it will take. Seguin admitted during the regular season that he never had to go in the corners when he was in juniors, and that much could be seen in the way he played as a rookie. He was also quick to get rid of the puck at points, so Julien limited the No. 2 pick’s opportunities. If Seguin can make the leap from his first year to his sophomore campaign, it will change the Bruins’ offense completely. Don’t rule out him jumping onto that second line as a winger with Bergeron and Marchand.
The argument could be made that Paille was the first domino to fall in Tim Thomas’ remarkable season. Paille’s poor play and turnovers were just as much to blame for the season-opening loss with Rask in net as anyone else, but Julien said the only way he would start Rask for both games in Prague was if he was outstanding. Rask allowed four goals in that game, and Thomas began the process of seizing the job the next day with a shutout in a game in which Paille was scratched in favor of Caron.
After going back and forth between being a healthy scratch, being in the lineup, and, for four games, being suspended, Paille cemented his place in the B's lineup in the playoffs. He and the fourth line were outstanding in Game 7, coming out as the strongest line on the ice in the first period.
Paille has one more year on his contract with a $1.075 cap hit before he hits unrestricted free agency. Depending on what happens with Ryder, it could be Paille whose roster spot Caron might push to take.
You can’t say enough about what Thornton means to the Bruins. He doesn’t need an 'A' on his jersey — only that 'B' — to show his leadership on a club that this season was a mix between established veterans and young players with untapped potential.
Thornton, like his linemates in Paille and Gregory Campbell, is entering the last year of his contract before becoming a free agent. Given that he scored a career-high 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points, his next deal should yield him more than $812,500 a year.
Campbell is a predictably solid player given his role: He will center the fourth line, he’ll kill penalties, and he’ll fight. Given Julien’s rewards system, Campbell’s style is one that the coach can be inclined to reward, just as he did in Game 7.
Caron had seven points in 23 NHL games this season and had 28 points with Providence in 47 games. Depending on what happens with Ryder, Caron could either start next season in Boston or Providence, though the 2009 first-rounder’s future is obviously with the big club.
As was the case with Bergeron, the B’s were wise to lock up Chara before the season began. The potential of a Norris-winning defenseman hitting free agency fresh off of captaining a Stanley Cup winner is about as enticing as it gets, especially considering the shape Chara keeps himself in.
Chara’s deal will carry a $6.91 million cap hit in its first six years, with the giant defenseman’s number going down to $4 million for the 2017-18 season.
Seidenberg used this postseason to prove that Chiarelli’s trade for him last season was among his best moves as Boston’s GM, and that re-signing him last offseason was up there as well. Seidenberg and Chara joined forces to make a nightmare of a pairing in the postseason. He showed that he can handle the minutes, and wherever he plays as a top-four defenseman next season, he did enough over these playoffs that he is well worth the $3.25 million per year.
Boychuk had has ups and downs in the postseason, with the downs obviously being highlighted by being on the ice for eight straight goals against from the Lightning series into the Cup finals.
Boychuk will have a very manageable $1.87 cap hit next season, the last year of his two-year deal. He will be an unrestricted free agent next july.
Ference showed this season and postseason just how valuable he can be when healthy. He earned every dime of his $2.25 million cap hit this season after his initial inking of the deal raised some eyebrows.
Ference’s 70 games played this season was the most he has played in a single season with the Bruins since joining them in the 2006-07 campaign.
McQuaid began the season as the team’s extra defenseman, but when various injuries on Boston’s blue line (Boychuk, Mark Stuart) gave him the opportunity to play, he became a fan favorite with his safe style of play complemented by his crazy hair and willingness to drop the gloves.
He’ll never be a superstar, but McQuaid is cautious enough a player to fit in Julien’s system. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer after having a $575,000 cap hit in the 2011-12 season.
Hnidy was brought in for depth in case the Bruins were ever in a pinch during the postseason, and he provided it in the first round when Chara missed Game 2 and twice in the second round when McQuaid was injured trying to hit Mike Richards. The 35-year-old, who signed with the team in February, was on a one-year deal and obviously is not in the team’s long-term plans. Were it not for Kampfer still recovering from a knee injury when Chara and McQuaid had to miss time, Hnidy might have not seen the ice in the playoffs.
People have varying opinions on what Kampfer’s role should be next season, but the opinion here is that there is value in being able to bring along a young offensively skilled defenseman on the third pairing. It’s likely the only scenario in which the B’s could do that would be if they either let Kaberle walk or moved one of their current blueliners.
Kampfer showed enough promise before playing himself out of a spot with a poor showing in Nashville late in the season, so the B’s shouldn’t deny him a chance to earn a long-term place in the lineup.
The Bruins have to be well aware that Rask is the goalie of the future, so they can continue to enjoy the dominance of Thomas between the pipes while also ramping up Rask's starts. The 24-year-old started 27 games this season, and the expectation here is that he will get at least 10 more starts than that next season. After all, he didn't lead the league in save percentage and goals against average in 2009-10 by accident. Rask will have a $1.25 cap hit next season before becomming a restricted free agent.