With the current NHL collective bargaining agreement due to expire Sept. 15, the Boston Bruins were busy in recent days re-signing a couple of key forwards eligible to become restricted free agents next summer.
Last Friday, left winger Brad Marchand signed a four-year, $18-million contract extension worth an average annual salary of $4.5 million, a raise of $2 million per season.
On Tuesday, center Tyler Seguin inked a six-year, $34.5-million extension, worth an average of $5.8 million per season, representing a substantial raise over the $3.6 million he’ll earn this season if he reaches his entry-level performance bonuses.
Both contracts take effect in 2013-14.
It’s understandable why Marchand and Seguin were keen to sign these new contracts. Given the possibility players’ salaries could be rolled back and/or subjected to higher escrow rates under the next CBA, these new contracts are lucrative enough to blunt the sting of potential salary reductions.
These moves leave the Bruins with goaltender Tuukka Rask and left winger Milan Lucic as their only notable pending RFAs for next summer.
Rask signed a one-year, $3.5-million deal earlier this summer, as it appears GM Peter Chiarelli wants to take a wait-and-see approach to Rask’s performance before locking him up to a long-term extension.
Lucic, meanwhile, is in the final season of a three-year contract paying him slightly more than $4 million. It remains to be seen how much Chiarelli believes the 24-year-old power forward is worth and if he’ll be re-signed prior to the expiration of this CBA.
Given the uncertainty over when a new CBA will be implemented and what it will contain, the Bruins were merely following a trend pursued since early August by other clubs of re-upping next summer’s RFA stars.
Among those re-signed to new deals in recent weeks were Edmonton Oilers left winger Taylor Hall and right winger Jordan Eberle; Carolina Hurricanes left winger Jeff Skinner; Montreal Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty; Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris and Philadelphia Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds.
KREJCI KEEPS POPPING UP IN TRADE SPECULATION
While Marchand and Seguin were signing new contracts, teammate David Krejci was shrugging off trade rumors that have dogged him throughout the off-season.
Though Krejci posted back-to-back 62-point performances, his inconsistency has been cause for concern amongst Bruins followers expecting him to develop into a reliable first-line center.
His poor performance in the Bruins’ first round exit from this past spring’s playoffs raised speculation he could be shopped. In recent weeks, he’d been linked in trade rumors to Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan.
Krejci told James Murphy of ESPN.com he didn’t pay much attention to the speculation. Based on his exit meetings with Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien, he believes they wish to retain him.
Another inconsistent performance, however, will do nothing to quell the trade rumors, though his new three-year, $15.8-million contract (with modified no-trade clauses in the final two years) could prove difficult to unload, especially if the salary cap is lowered in the next CBA.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla’s Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.