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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bruins: A rebuttal to opinion on free agency

I was reading an article on The Hub Of Hockey and could not help to voice my opinion against it. The article, entitled "Bruins must be active during free-agency" by Mark Marino explains how it would be nice not to trade Marc Savard yet somehow find a way to dump either Tim Thomas or Michael Ryders' contracts and move after a young scorer, in this case Duck's young forward Bobby Ryan, a restricted free agent.

What really gets my goat is that a good portion of the article is still going back to the loss of Phil Kessel as the primary reason the Bruins scored 74 less goals in 2009-10 than in 2008-09.

Consider this: The Bruins last year had a 7.5 percent shooting percentage. League average is around 10 percent (2008-09 Bruins shot 10.9 percent). This, like the BABIP stat in baseball, is one that tends to come back to the mean and is somewhat a signifier of luck. How many times last year did you see a sure goal bounce away? Those goals would go in in a different year. The Bruins deficit of goals from 2008-09 to 09-10 cannot, and should not, be attributed to Phil Kessel. Yes, perhaps he was a percentage but the problems the Bruins faced last year (injuries leading to lack of length on the lines) would not have been fixed directly with Kessel. I am of the opinion that, without doing much maneuvering, the Bruins would come back to the middle of the pack in scoring. Add Horton and Seguin, a healthy Krejci, Savard and Lucic an maturation from Blake Wheeler (which is distinctly possible) and the Bruins might be looking at a good scoring team. Better than average, at least. It is not unreasonable to expect a jump in scoring though it probably is unreasonable to say the Bruins get back to 2008-09 levels no matter what they do. It was a fortuitous year that saw a majority of Bruins players perform well above expectations. 2009-10 was directly the opposite yet the Bruins made it just as far as they had the year before. The point is that Chiarelli should not get crazy in free agency and by everything he has said to this point, he will not. The UFA (and especially the RFA) market is a good way to handicap future plans, of which the Bruins seem to have a good plan that I would like to see Chiarelli develop. Look for the only real signing for the Bruins to make to be roster filler second market guys (the Begin, Yelle, Satan types) and depth moves. Fans love to salivate over free agency. It is fun. They look over rosters of who is available and concoct schemes to acquire them. Yet, a team like the Bruins (who have some questionable contracts that are hard to move) cannot afford to go big in the free agent signing period. I guarantee that in two years you will be writing the same article about how Player X needs to be moved because of his contract the same way that you are railing on Michael Ryder (who should be moved less for his performance and more for his attitude down the stretch last year, he just seemed not to care).

Chiarelli has said repeatedly that they would acquire through the trade market. From breakdown day to the draft last week, he has stressed that the Bruins will not be active come July 1. This is perhaps smoke and mirrors, but I doubt it. He does not have a lot of flexibility at this point. Yes, he would love to move one of his more cumbersome contracts and there is a fair likelihood that he does, but do not expect him to jump off the deep end. Chiarelli is nothing if not pragmatic (though sometimes his decision making is questionable, ie, Lucic/Ference contract extensions).

What I do agree with you on is that moving Savard would be a mistake, at least in the short term. Tyler Seguin can play a wing and probably should start there given the current roster configuration. He will get his chance to play center next season, an injury always comes up. If the situation becomes untenable, then make a move.

Disagree if you like. I will make some type of gentleman's wager -- If Bobby Ryan is a Bruin next year I will eat my hat (not literally, but something of that ilk).

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dan,

    Nice rebuttal. But one thing I have to make extra clear is that I was not saying the reason why the Bruins tanked in goals-for was because of no Kessel. No way. The team as a whole and individually did not step up and fill his void, is all -- as well as the Bruins' brass failing to address those needs.

    There's no way I think Bobby Ryan will become a Bruin next year. But the point was to show A) the bad contracts that Chiarelli has given out and now wants to take back, in a way (Thomas, Savard); and B) with the limited cap-space, to further address their scoring needs, changes must be made though ballsy and creative trades/moves.