This off-season will provide an interesting test for Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reports Chiarelli already has over $57.5 million tied up in 15 players for 2015-16. Should the salary cap increase to $71 million, it will leave less than $14 million to re-sign or replace key players.
Topping the list is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is coming off his entry-level contract. Based on his breakout performance this season (42 points in 72 games prior to a recent upper-body injury), the 21-year-old Hamilton will be due a substantial pay raise.
Haggerty believes the hope is the Bruins can ink Hamilton to a two-three year deal between $3-$4 million annually. Comparable deals could include Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman (five years, $20 million) or Minnesota's Jonas Brodin (six-years, $25 million). However, The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa speculates it might be wishful thinking assuming the Bruins can ink Hamilton to similar deals.
Shinzawa and Haggerty both acknowledge the possibility a rival club with more cap space and in need of a top-two defenseman (like the Edmonton Oilers or Columbus Blue Jacket) could contact Hamilton with an expensive offer sheet in the neighbourhood of $6 million per season. While both pundits believe Chiarelli will match any offer sheet, such a move could take a much bigger bite out of the Bruins' remaining cap space.
As Haggerty suggests, it's in the Bruins best interest to get Hamilton under contract as soon as possible to avoid another club forcing them to pay far more to re-sign him.
DEVILS LOOKING FOR BOOST UP FRONT
As the New Jersey Devils season winds to a close, speculation among their fans turns toward potential off-season moves by GM Lou Lamoriello.
NorthJersey.com's Tom Gulitti reports Lamoriello faces a tall order rebuilding his roster. Given his club's poor offensive numbers this season, the long-time Devils GM's stated priority is to add a couple of scoring forwards. Gulitti reports Lamoriello claims he tried acquiring a scorer at the trade deadline but couldn't find a willing trade partner.
One option for Lamoriello could be packaging his first-round pick in this year's draft, which is likely to be sixth overall. Lamoriello could find some interest from clubs seeking to move up in the draft order.
It wouldn't be the first time he's dealt his first-round pick, having done so in 2013 to acquire goaltender Cory Schneider from Vancouver. Of course, if the Devils should win the draft lottery they'll keep that pick to select Connor McDavid, thus addressing one of their needs for a scoring forward.
Gulitti also speculates Lamoriello might draw from among his promising core of young defensemen for trade bait to address his scoring needs. NJ.com's Rich Chere reports Devils blueliner Eric Gelinas acknowledged he, Adam Larsson, Damon Severson or Jon Merrill could be moved for an offensive forward.