It is a long and tough summer for free agents who don’t get offered new contracts on the open market. Uncertainty about their future creeps in and leads to many sleepless nights. The combination of a lower salary cap than expected, the resurgence of a faster game dominated by younger players, and prior contract obligations all factored into many teams not being able to offer many players deals. A player’s dwindling production level or having a recent history of injuries could have a big impact on management’s decision not to offer a guaranteed contract.
The Boston Bruins are in a similar predicament as the Columbus Blue Jackets are with Ryan Johansen. Two of the Bruins key players, 3rd line Center Reilly Smith and offensive defenseman Torey Krug, are Restricted Free Agents (RFAs).
Unlike the Blue Jackets’ situation, the Bruins are hard pressed for cap space. They currently sit approximately $800k over the salary cap that is set to kick in at the start of the season on October 8th. But they’ll get just over $4M in salary cap relief by placing injured forward Marc Savard on the Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) opening week. This will open up $3.2M cap space to sign their two RFA stars. The Bruins also have a cap hit of $4.8M carried over from bonuses paid to players last season. Jarome Iginla is mainly the cause for this as he took a cheap contract (1 year, $1.8M) that was laced with more than $4.2M worth of bonuses that he was able to achieve.
Ryan Johansen’s contract situation is very interesting. Johansen had a breakthrough season last year for the Columbus Blue Jackets to lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, almost knocking off the highly potent Pittsburgh Penguins. He led the team with 33 goals and 63 points. The goal total put him 12th in the league alongside premiere goal scorers like Patrick Sharp, Jamie Benn, and Chris Kunitz.