By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins lost a six-game playoff series to Ottawa by the slimmest of margins, getting outscored 15-13 and losing three overtime games.READ MORE: At-Home Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing Gaining Popularity Ahead Of Holidays
Despite the disappointing result, the Bruins have to have a sense of pride with how this season played out. General manager Don Sweeney finally installed the coach he wanted, Bruce Cassidy. Younger players developed and got six games of playoff experience.
Assuming Sweeney is back, Cassidy will probably be back. That’s maybe the easiest decision the Bruins have this offseason.
Here’s a keep-or-dump look at four Bruins the team might have to make a decision about:
The captain showed some signs of slowing down in the regular season, but considering he was still asked to play 23:20 a night and do most of it with rookie Brandon Carlo, he had a pretty solid season. He was still one of the better shutdown defenders in the NHL and his 10 goals and 29 points were impressive considering he was left off the power play most of the season.
The best news for the Bruins is that the 40-year-old will only hit the Bruins’ salary cap at $4 million this season. The bad news it’s the last year of his contract and he can be an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
Verdict: Keep and extend. After you spit take, realize that Chara isn’t going to fall off from a top-two defenseman to a beer league blueliner in two years. If he’ll take the hometown discount (still a pretty hefty sum of $4-4.5 million) he’d be a great placeholder and mentor for a couple of years in case some of these prospects (and this is going to happen) don’t pan out. Plus, if you can work out a partial no-trade situation with him, he would be movable should things go south and/or he’s not needed because every one of Sweeney’s picks becomes an All-Star.
[graphiq id=”i5dkV2iy8ZL” title=”Zdeno Chara Career Points, Goals, & Assists” width=”600″ height=”495″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/i5dkV2iy8ZL” ]
He had a lower-body injury toward the end of the regular season that seemingly healed by playoff time, but in the postseason he was never considered as a lineup fill-in and his status was never addressed. Safe to say he’s not in the Bruins’ plans for next year, when he’s due $2.3 million in the last year of his deal.READ MORE: 'This Is What Really Matters': Patriots TE Jonnu Smith Spreads Joy At Boys And Girls Club In Dorchester
Verdict: Dump. It’s time for Sweeney to admit he blew this trade and cut bait with Hayes. It’s not worth paying most of his salary to bury him in the AHL. According to CapFriendly.com, a buyout would cost the Bruins $567,000 on the cap this season and $866,000 the next season. It’s worth it. Hayes seems like a great guy in the room but he’s never going to play here and a buyout would be mutually beneficial.
[graphiq id=”7lQgH59u5KJ” title=”Jimmy Hayes Career Points, Goals, & Assists” width=”600″ height=”495″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/7lQgH59u5KJ” ]
The post-Claude boost didn’t help Spooner raise his stock and become the offensive force everyone had been hoping for. Turns out it was more than just coaching holding him back. Sad to say, even Cassidy wanted a 200-foot player, and every coach in the NHL is going to want that as well. By Game 5 of the Ottawa series, Spooner was in the press box watching Sean Kuraly play the way a young player in the postseason is supposed to perform. Even when David Krejci was injured, Spooner didn’t get back in the lineup because the Bruins finally learned that Spooner isn’t the type of player who responds in the right way to discipline.
Verdict: Dump. Sadly his stock might have dropped because of his playoff performance. Nonetheless, he’s an offensive talent that many coaches probably believe they can mold into a better all-around player. After accumulating 39 points while making less than $1 million, he’s due a pretty raise, something the Bruins can’t afford to make happen. There has to be an equivalent winger out there the Bruins can swap Spooner for and at least invest their money at a position where they need help.
[graphiq id=”5YFSlskIWUd” title=”Ryan Spooner Career Points, Goals, & Assists” width=”600″ height=”495″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/5YFSlskIWUd” ]
It’s pay up time for the Bruins, who started Pastrnak’s contract right after he was drafted in 2014. He erupted for 34 goals in 75 games in what was kind of his first full NHL season because injuries and other assorted transactions limited him to a total of 97 games in his first two seasons. Pastrnak isn’t eligible for arbitration, so the Bruins have the leverage, except for the fact that Pastrnak has the talent and the Bruins have the Dougie Hamilton fiasco still hanging over their heads. However, Pastrnak actually seems to love it here and the Bruins seem to love him not just for his goal-scoring but for his work ethic (first player on the ice every day) and his willingness to learn to take less risk and be a 200-foot player.
Verdict: Keep. This is not a revelation but it is an acknowledgement that some nuts are going to say the Bruins should trade him to make room for Anders Bjork or whatever. Of course, there’s also the negotiations, which you hope will be civil considering the Bruins have the leverage and they have a history of doing bridge-type deals with the likes of Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and David Krejci at similar points in their careers. Something around four or five years, at around $5 million will give the Bruins and the player flexibility. It could leave the Bruins and Pastrnak far apart toward the end of the deal (and the current CBA) but Sweeney really has no business thinking beyond the next handful of seasons.
[graphiq id=”eUgqC1EFnpz” title=”David Pastrnak Career Points, Goals, & Assists” width=”600″ height=”495″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/eUgqC1EFnpz” ]MORE NEWS: Families Being Forced Out Of Malden Apartments By Charter School That Purchased Building
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.