The Boston Bruins made a deal early Monday morning to acquire winger Brett Connoly from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for second round draft picks in 2015 and 2016. Connoly fills one of the two needs on this team at the wing position, but the Bruins could also use some depth at defense. Connoly’s contract is only $850,500 and he will be a restricted free agent after the season.
The contract the Bruins got themselves into was damn near perfect as they were able to take advantage of a loophole in the NHL salary cap when they placed David Krejci and Kevan Miller on long term injured reserve. Doing that allowed the Bruins to use the salaries of Krejci ($5.25 million) and Miller’s ($800K) of which they’ve used none of in acquiring Connoly.
Connoly, a sixth overall pick by the Lightning in 2010, was drafted in the same year as Tyler Seguin just four selections later. Connoly has been a minus-player on a playoff caliber Lightning team overall the past two seasons, but is a plus-four this season. This was considered by many in Tampa Bay to be a make or break season for Connoly, who signed a one-year prove it sort of deal with the Lightning prior to this season. Thus far, Connoly has put up 12 goals and 3 assists in 50 games making, which isn’t exactly lighting it up.
To be fair, a lot of Connoly’s inconsistency has been due to lack of space on the roster leading to a lack of playing time. The Lightning are deep at the wing position and it led to him playing just 16 total games in the previous two seasons after playing in 68 his rookie season. His ice time per season is just around 12 minutes making getting a rhythm that much harder.
The offensively skilled Connoly took a step back and just may have realized his place in the NHL as he became a bit more physical the past couple seasons. He offers offensive skill to the Bruins that need some at very little risk and it’s exactly what the Bruins need to continue if they add more players by the deadline.
The Bruins have very little cap space to mess around with, but the more important than making a run this season is obviously prolonged success and that’s where Chiarelli will have to be careful. After reported of Chiarelli’s job being in jeopardy, he just may jump the gun and use all that money in the loophole and unless the high priced player is a free agent after this season, it may have a lasting negative impact on the Bruins.
The Bruins have $51.2 million tied up in payroll for next season, but have a ton of players coming into free agency; especially defensemen. Highest on the list is possibly Dougie Hamilton, who is thought to be the future at defense for the B’s. The Bruins only have two defensemen under contract after next season and it’s Chara and Seidenberg. Krug, Bartkowski, Hamilton and McQuaid are all free agents.
Among other upcoming free agents is Carl Soderberg, Daniel Paille, Reilly Smith, Gregory Campbell, Ryan Spooner and Jordan Caron.
The Bruins first and second lines are locked up and basically taking up 2/3 of the available cap space. This is leaving about $18 million to take care of all these upcoming free agents I just listed. A Bruins organization and coach that prides itself on the third and fourth line depth will need to be smart if they are in fact not done at this trade deadline. An addition that is not a free agent at the conclusion of this season will mean less spending money this offseason.
According to NESN, the Bruins are reportedly not done, but I think there’s a good chance they will be based on what I’ve said above. The Bruins are still in the market for a defenseman at this year’s trade deadline, but it will have to be the perfect situation or it could really hinder the players they are looking to resign in the offseason. Look for upcoming free agents on bad teams that make small/mid-market money:
Jan Hejda of the Avalanche seems to be available and an interesting name. Arizona is second to last in the Western Conference and has a ton of low money defenseman that are coming up on free agency: Andrew Campbell, Dylan Reese, Patrick McNeill and Mark Louis. Teams like Edmonton, Buffalo, Toronto, Carolina and Columbus are all towards the bottom of their conference and some of those teams have already shipped out defensemen on expiring deals.