Brad Marchand’s 37-goal campaign got the conversation started about how much the Bruins may have to pay to get him locked up to a new deal.
The past season was the best of Brad Marchand’s career, hands down. The 28-year-old netted 37 goals, 61 points and was a scoring force on a Bruins team that netted an extra third of a goal per game from the campaign prior. On a personal level, it couldn’t have come at a better time for Marchand.
The 2016-17 season will be the final campaign of Marchand’s current deal — a four-year, $18-million contract — and it has the Bruins winger positioned for a sizeable raise on the $4.5 million he has earned in each of the past four seasons. But with unrestricted free agency less than one year away, Marchand told NHL.com’s Matt Kalman that he’s not concerned with landing a new deal.
“It’s a whole year away,” Marchand told Kalman. “A lot of things can happen in a year’s time. If it ever gets down to (free agency) then we’ll worry about that then. But right now I have too many things that I need to focus on to even worry about that. I’ve always been the kind of guy to take it day by day with not a whole lot of worries.”
Even if Marchand isn’t one to have many worries, though, he should have one less when it comes to finding a landing place and getting a deal he feels is justified. With the way he produced this past season, it’s hard to fathom the Bruins will be letting him go anywhere, even if the starting price for Marchand could realistically reach into the $6 million per season range.
That may seem like a high price for Marchand, but it’s the going rate for a player of his ilk. A number of players with point totals similar to Marchand’s over the past two seasons signed deals that were worth in the $6 million range this past off-season, including two of Marchand’s former teammates, Loui Eriksson and Milan Lucic.
Eriksson, 31, scored 52 goals and 110 points over the past two seasons — .67 points per game — and possesses a steady two-way game. Lucic, 28, has netted 38 goals and 99 points — .61 points per game — while bringing a physical edge that made him highly sought after this summer.
Meanwhile, Marchand has been a similar producer with 61 goals, 103 points and the same points per game production as Eriksson. Marchand brings the two-way game, a peskiness few other players possess and somewhat of a physical edge. That Eriksson and Lucic netted $6 million annual salaries with the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, respectively, makes Marchand landing a similar deal feel like a near certainty.
Marchand’s point totals are, no doubt, bolstered by his performance this past season and there are some who will believe it was a one-off. However, there’s evidence 30-35 goals is well within Marchand’s reach again in 2016-17, even if he told Kalman that he’s trying to avoid statistical goals.
“I’m not so much focused on hitting that number as I am playing a good game and being a good player for the team, being strong defensively and playing my role the way they want me to do it,” Marchand told Kalman. “I’m sure if I didn’t get back there, as long as I played well and did the right things, then they’ll still be happy with my game.”
And while that may very well be true, the fact is that Marchand has been trending towards being a consistent 30-goal player over the past few seasons and maintaining that pace could simply be a matter of giving him the opportunity to do so. It’s not as if his scoring was pure luck.
In fact, Marchand’s scoring this past season wasn’t the result of an increase in shooting percentage at all. His 14.8 shooting percentage was below his 15 percent career average and his 10.05 shooting percentage at 5-on-5 was the second-worst of his career. However, the pure volume of shots Marchand registered — a career-best 250, which is 70 more shots than his previous career high — was what was most responsible for his uptick in production. That, of course, went hand-in-hand with Marchand boasting the highest average ice time of his career.
The hardest part for the Bruins shouldn’t be hammering out the details of the deal, though. With Marchand’s production, ability and versatility, $6 million sounds like it’s a starting point for the sides to move up or maybe slightly down from. The biggest concern will be how that fits under the salary cap on a Boston team that will only have roughly $19.2 million to work with and eight roster spots to fill.
That will be the Bruins’ concern, though, not Marchand’s. His production this past season has set the table for him to earn himself a big time raise, and following it up with yet another solid campaign should be all he needs to show he’s deserving of earning just as much as a pair of his former teammates.
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