The Boston Bruins are as far into salary cap jail as any contending team since the Chicago Blackhawks ended their four decades long drought. They quite literally have to trade someone, and probably more than one person in order to be able to put a team on the ice in October. If they aren’t cap complaint they can’t play.

With just 18 players signed, CapGeek.com lists them as having less than $350,000 available per player to sign a minimum of 3 additional players, and experience has shown us the Boston Bruins like to carry an extra forward and defenseman each. With their available space roughly half of league minimum and the need for a top line right wing, even allowing for all of Marc Savard’s money being put off onto the long term injured reserve, there still isn’t much room to bring in a right wing for the first line, resign Smith, Krug, allow for injuries, and possibly acquiring an expiring deal later in the season. And one has to remember that Hamilton’s deal expires this season, as does Soderberg’s. Eriksson and Lucic only have one more season beyond the current one as well.

Any shift in a team’s composition has to start with who can’t be traded. While I’m of the belief that if Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Ray Bourque can be traded anyone can be, for some players and teams it would be hugely impractical to move someone for on and off reasons. It’s in no way controversial to say that Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are not players the team should consider moving for anything less than a kings ransom. Why this is doesn’t need to be discussed further.

The next tier would be players it would be foolish to trade either because of a mix of remaining RFA time and pure upside, unique combination of skills, or because they are expected to perform at a given level and they currently have a contract commiserate with that level. That list is pretty short as well, three players long, Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic, and Dougie Hamilton are on that list, and you can make a very strong case to put Brad Marchand here as well.

That’s two to six player that moving would damage the team more than any conceivable benefit. The next thing you have to look at is depth in a given position. The Bruins have several young prospects at goaltender, Svedberg, Subban, Gothberg, Morrison but none who are ready to be the #1 goaltender for a team with this style, and who expect to contend now. At left wing, they have arguably their second best forward position with Lucic and Marchand as full time top two line wingers on any team in the NHL Eriksson able to flip between the wings, and Paile able to slide up and down the chart.

Defense is the backbone of the team, at this point its a given Chara and Hamilton will return, Krug is likely, and Seidenberg’s trade value is essentially zero at this point so he’ll be back unless he specifically asks out. McQuaid has about the same trade value as his German counterpart. Miller is cheap, and the return on him wouldn’t be enough to justify the time it took to trade him.

The Bruins are desperately lacking at the right wing position. No further evidence of this is needed than them having acquired the ancient Jagr and Recchi in the past few years to play there. The team, and any sensible portion of the fan base are still hoping to resign Iginla. There are a host of prospects in the AHL, junior hockey and fresh out of the draft who might fill in adequately but no known quantities.

Center is hands down the Boston Bruins deepest position. After Bergeron the team finished the season with Campbell, Kelly, Krejci, Soderberg, with their resumes endorsed with NHL playoff time. Ryan Spooner earned some regular season time, as did Lindblad and Khokhlachev. Spooner still projects as a 1/2 center, Soderberg held down the 3C spot admirably in Kelly’s absence and, Khokhlachev has KHL experience in addition to his AHL and OHL time.

When you look at who’s contracts are up soon, where the depth in the system is, and who has the least unique skill set in the system and the most potential return the Bruins will likely end up trading David Krejci and Johnny Boychuk. Both have been good soldiers, but Krejci has a big cap hit and didn’t really justify it last season. He played between two guys who have scored 30 or more goals in a season and ended up 11th on the team in playoff scoring (Iginla 3rd Lucic 4th), and barely outpointed Bergeron who played notably fewer minutes with more of them on the penalty kill, and lesser offensive linemates.

For Boychuk, he’s a more than serviceable 2nd pairing defenseman, he’d be great to keep if the team has room to do so. He’s reliable, largely healthy, but his offense is meager and he’s not as defensively adept as Seidenberg and he’s not going to put up the offensive numbers of Krug, Hamilton, or likely Morrow whenever he cracks the lineup.

If you’re interested in seeing what a post Krejci-Boychuk roster might look like if most roster positions are filled with in system talent, here is one possibility which allows for a great deal of bonus overage from last season.

The salary cap, retirement, injuries, personality conflicts, and variable motivation are all among the factors that can and do lead to NHL trades. But how do you evaluate who needs to go in any given situation?

Replaceability:

Unless you’re going for a pure salary dump and going for an advantage in the draft

  • Does the trade provide the replacement for the player(s) being moved?
  • What is the time table for integrating the replacement(s) into the system?
  • What is the cost of replacement ?

Comparative Qualities:

  • Where do the differences lie in talent between departing and incoming players: is the player a right or left shot.
  • Skating ability: Is one player better laterally than the other faster, better turning, weaker going backward?
  • Physicality: Does one player resemble Clutterbuck in hitting and the other is more like Jaromir Jagr?
  • How much do they want to be on the ice at all times? Are you getting or giving up a Rich Peverley who has a heart attack on the bench and wants to keep playing or the guy who gets cramps and wants to leave a playoff game?
  • What zone or zones doe this player do their best work in ?
  • North-south player or east-west?

Marketability:

While in some cities this will make less impact than others, if you are trading away or for a major name you need to be prepared for it good or bad.

  • Is your guy selling more jerseys than some teams?
  • Will this guys playing style sit well with the local fans and media?

Team Chemistry:

Some teams think they can win on pure talent, (see Capitals, Washington, Sharks, San Jose) but this isn’t quite true.

  • Are you getting a party boy?
  • How is the balance of leadership going to change?
  • How is the ice time shift caused by changing personnel going to impact other players?
  • Will off ice activities and or religious beliefs interfere with their integration into team culture?
  • How much happier will your key players be with someone being moved out gone?

Interwoven into all of these is what you plan to accomplish your goals, short term, long term and in between. If you’re shaking up the roster because you think apathy is the order of the day but you’re not expecting a big swing in the standings, who goes and who stays isn’t nearly as big a deal. Are you tanking? Making a run for the playoffs? Is the goal to sacrifice a bit of high end talent for more depth? Or are you making that nearly mythical trade to bring in The Guy who will take your team to the promised land? No matter what the level of player(s) or pick(s) moved, there is no such thing as a zero impact trade.

It’s that time again gentle readers. We are at the beginning of a new epoch in the careers a couple hundred hopeful young men. Two hundred and ten of them will be drafted in Philadelphia. Many will be present, some will go high and hard, some will fall, and others will splash into the pool of ignominy, much like enthusiastic participants of this here drinking game.

To play along you will need three different beverages, and of course the ability to see and hear the draft.

Beverage 1:

Take one sip:

  • a current NHL player is shown on the screen.
  • a coach is mentioned as being new in his current position.
  • a prospect is said to have leadership qualities.
  • the combine is mentioned.
  • an NHL or team executive is shown and their playing career is mentioned
  • a picture of Philadelphia that has nothing to do with hockey is shown.
  • A team makes a dramatic pause in the middle of their selection.

Take two sips:

  • A prospect is selected and they stop to hug, high five or shake hands with more than five people.
  • A trade of players you’ve never heard of occurs.
  • A team trades for a first or second round pick in next years draft.
  • pictures or video is shown of a former NHL player
  • Free agency coverage is mentioned.
  • each time a place or team is referred to as a “X factory” (goalie, defense-man, NHL draftee…)
  • a prospect is called “coachable”
  • two or more NHL players are mentioned as having played on the same Junior or College team.

 

Beverage 2:

Take one sip :

  • A team representative mentions addressing a need.
  • how long a draftee is away from being an NHL player is discussed.
  • A franchise is mentioned as being in a rebuilding mode.
  • More than four representatives of a team go up on stage to announce a pick.
  • A “top 10” prospect is shown before his name is called.
  • a prospect is asked who they model their game on.

Take two sips:

  • the Flyers fans in attendance fail to loudly boo a rival teams representatives.
  • Flyers GM Hextall appears on stage or screen and doesn’t get a standing ovation from local fans.
  • someone speculates on “the Russian factor” of where a prospect has or will be taken.
  • A general manager pronounces themselves happy or satisfied with the draft.
  • Craig Button or Bob McKenzie express surprise at where a player was drafted.
  • Whenever someone is asked about changes to their position or the team.

 

Beverage 3:

Take two sips

  • a player is drafted that is related to one or more current or past NHL players.
  • a player is drafted and is related to one or more NON-hockey professional athletes.
  • a baffling trade of NHL players is announced.
  • a team trades out of the first round.
  • anytime two players in a row are taken from any league other than the OHL.
  • a prospect is shown in their jersey and it looks like a little kid wearing his dad’s jersey.

 

Triple Deke, when ever an item on the list happens, take one sip of each beverage.

  • A player is drafted five or more spots above where they were projected to go.
  • A general manager says “we really liked (player’s name) and…”
  • a coaching vacancy is mentioned.
  • a player falls more than 12 spots below where they were projected to go.
  • the number of times a team has drafted in a particular range in the last decade is mentioned.
  • two or more OHL players are drafted in a row.
  • anytime a player who makes more than four million a year is traded.
  • video of Ron Hextall playing is shown (one bonus sip if footage includes a fight.)

 

Please remember neither PuckSage, the NHL, your internet service provider, you fourth grade teacher, first crush, last crush, the monsters under your bed, and the voices in your head and or anyone else you might want to blame for any stupid things that happen after you take the dubious step of taking part in the drinking game. Please keep PuckSage updated with those stupid things if you somehow retain the ability. Comments here or tweets to @PuckSage will be very entertaining, but do not signify anyone or anything condones your deleterious actions, and just as a friendly reminder there is no delete option for anything that makes it onto the internet.