As training camp approaches for the Boston Bruins, both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo remain unsigned.
Both Carlo and McAvoy were arguably the Bruins' best defensemen throughout the playoffs this past season, averaging over 20 minutes a game each. Now, with just over $7 million in cap space, the Bruins will have to shed some salary if they want to keep both Carlo and McAvoy.
The Ideal Scenario
The ideal scenario for the Bruins would include packaging a first-round pick with David Backes and trade him to a team that needs to hit the salary cap floor. Doing this would free up $6 million in cap space and would be enough to ensure that that both Carlo and McAvoy would be signed long term.
I would like to believe that Don Sweeny has already attempted to dump Backes’ salary. But now that there are only two weeks until training camp, that means either no one wants Backes, despite potentially gaining a first round pick, or Sweeny does not want to give up Backes at all, despite his lack of production.
So What Other Options Are There?
After Backes, the only other options the Bruins can explore involve trading an impact player, or trading either McAvoy or Carlo.
One player that the Bruins can get a good return for is Torey Krug. The Bruins are going into a year where they will likely have more than nine defensemen looking to make the team, so losing a defenseman may not be such a bad thing. Krug is going into the final year of his deal and is considered one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. So, instead of losing him for nothing one year from now, why not trade him for a high draft pick?
Another defenseman that is now expendable, is Kevan Miller. Miller barely saw any time last season due to various lower body injuries. However, in 39 games last season, Miller had seven points and was a +8, which shows that he could be of some service to another team. Getting rid of Miller would free up $2.5 million in cap space, which most likely would not be enough to keep both Carlo and McAvoy, but it would help ensure that Boston keeps at least one of them.
One more trade candidate is David Krejci. Krejci is coming off a career year, and it is unlikely that Sweeny would give up a secondline center one season after making it to game seven of the Finals. However, there is no better time to trade Krejci than the present, because the Bruins may not have to retain any of Krejci’s $7.25 million salary which would free up more than enough to keep Carlo and McAvoy.
The fact of the matter is, if the Bruins cannot trade Backes, they will need to trade an impact player, and if Sweeny does not want to trade an impact player, then the Bruins will be stuck with two young defensemen holding out into the season. And if you watched William Nylander after he came back from holding out the first few months of the season for the Maple Leafs, you definitely do not want either Carlo or McAvoy holding out. So look out for some big changes for the Bruins within the next couple weeks as training camp approaches.