The Bruins need to revamp their Defense. Any fan paying attention to this team for the past two years knows this is a unassailable fact. But is the maximum offer sheet that CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty is reporting may be in the works for Winnepeg Jets RFA D Jacob Trouba a realistic solution?
The options to improve the D for this upcoming season are dwindling. That’s for certain.
They passed on the one draft eligible defenseman that seemed capable of possibly helping this season, Jakob Chychrun, in favor of BU freshman Charlie McAvoy, who is most likely 2 years away from an NHL debut.
The efforts to move the 29th pick overall for Kevin Shattenkirk fell through largely because St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong was rumored to be asking for prices befitting a Norris caliber D, not a blueliner who, based on TOI in the Sharks playoff series, was falling to 4th on the depth chart on his own team.
With top free agent options like Alex Goligosky and Keith Yandle already gone in pre July 1st rights trading, the options for defensive upgrades in unrestricted free agency are dwindling as well for Sweeney and the Bruins.
So in terms of the avenues the Bruins have available for defensive upgrades, an offer sheet makes some sense. But the price of the offers heet may not.
Due to the fact that the Bruins traded away their own 2nd and 3rd round picks for Lee Stempniak and Zac Rinaldo (That hurts just typing it), their only option available for a RFA is the nuclear four 1st round level of compensation which is what the 9.8 million offer sheet calculation for Trouba that Haggs is reporting would mandate.
The Bruins are a team stuck in NHL limbo. A team just on the outside of the playoffs for two stright seasons with not much immediate help in sight. They are in this state now partly because they have little to nothing to show for 1st round picks from 2007 to 2012 on their current roster. Handing over their next 4 firsts could be almost as crippling from a draft and development perspective.
That is also why that kind of compensation would be hard for the Jets to turn down. And if the Bruins fashion their offer sheet in a similar way to the one the Flyers gave to Shea Weber, it might be impossible for them to match.
Philly structured Weber’s salary through bonuses so that he would receive a quarter of the 100 million dollar deal in the 1st calendar year of the contract. They figured that a smaller market like Nashville may balk at that type of financial outlay alone. But Nashville GM David Poile matched the offer, as losing Ryan Suter and Shea Weber at the same time would have been too much of a roster and PR hit for the Predators to manage.
The Jets however may be more susceptible to this tactic.
First of all, their fan base is rabid. This isn’t a franchise that Bettman shoehorned into a non-traditional hockey market. The Jets cater to a throng of hockey zealots that are still euphoric to have an NHL team again. They will pack MTS Centre with loyalists regardless of the results of this move. So if Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff like the return, he doesn’t have to worry about it affecting the fan base the way Nashville did.
Second is the cost. The Jets are still closer to the salary floor than they are the cap spending wise. Would a front loaded offer to a smaller market team in Canada cause them to balk on matching? Financially, given the US to Canadian exchange rate, it just may if a Philly style front loaded deal is how Boston structures the offersheet.
Personally, I wouldn’t do it. While I like Trouba a lot, I think the price of four 1st rounders is too much for a player that still has a lot of growing to do and may ultimately not be the top pair D the Bruins lust for.
I also don’t like the financial precedent it sets for the team internally. If any of the the Bruins defensive prospects comes through, the market they set internally for Trouba becomes the origin point of their agents negotiation, resulting in a messy cap situation or negotiating nightmares that require more trades. Plus the cash already committed right now to McQuaid, Seidenber and Miller makes for a very expensive D corps that Trouba alone may not be able to fix.
And if the goal of the Trouba move is to compete as a playoff team and a contender then the team will, in all likelihood, need to jettison more picks and prospects in trades to add pieces as most contenders do. This outlay coupled with no 1st rounders till 2021, will further limit their drafting and development in a hard cap league where it matters the most.
I love Trouba the player and an offers heet for him might be too much for the Jets to match, it may ultimately cost too much for the Bruins to make.