By Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily
Less than two weeks remaining until the NHL trade deadline, itís become clear that Peter Chiarelli's options are few and far between.
The Bruins GM has a little north $1.7 million of salary cap space to work with before the March 2 deadline according to NHLNumbers.com. The question is how should Chiarelli use the money he has for the rest of the 2014-15 season?
The Bruins are in midst of a four-game losing streak and have lost five of six during the month of February. Sure, they are two points ahead of the Florida Panthers for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but that lead has been shrinking by the day and itís safe to say that this current roster could very well relinquish that eighth seed by the end of the season.
Chiarelli, however, has some decisions to make. Should he try to improve the team in the short term? Or should he sell some core players that have sparked the Black and Gold over the last few seasons?
One option that Chiarelli shouldnít do: stay pat and do nothing. That said, letís take a look at the risks and benefits of the Bruins buying and selling this trade deadline.
Buying: Strengthening the roster, one way or another, has been Chiarelliís priority since trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders before the start of the season. Even though he relieved some cap space, all it did was leave a big void on the Bruins blue line, and instead of having the same depth in yearís past, itís been a sore spot for head coach Claude Julien and company.
A top-four defenseman, like Keith Yandle or Zbynek Michalek, would help stabilize the teamís back end, but that would require shipping some of their core players (see below) due to their cap hits of $5.25 million and $4 million, respectively.
Offensively, the Bruins could certainly use some more scoring up front. Their top-six forwards are having a down year and the team is in the bottom half in the league in scoring (2.59 goals per game, good for 21st) and power play percentage (16.9 percent, 24th). Names like Antoine Vermette, Cam Atkinson, Chris Stewart and former Bís Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryder have been thrown around for short term fixes, while Jordan Eberle, although a stretch, could provide a much needed spark in the long term.
The question on Eberle and Yandle is would they fit into the Bruins future. For the rental players like Jagr, Ryder and Vermette, would they really be the best options for the Black and Gold to shore up a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Which leads us to...
Selling: This would be a more drastic measure for Chiarelli, and it would involve parting ways with some of his core players.
Clearly, Chiarelli will need to part with some talent, regardless. Prospects like Ryan Spooner and Malcolm Subban will likely be part of a package if the Bruins are buyers.
Given their tight cap space and pending new contracts for Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg (to name a few), Chiarelli may want to part with some of his veterans. Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci arenít going anywhere. But someone like Loui Eriksson, who has had two very shaky seasons since coming over from Boston, at best, might benefit from a change of scenery. Perhaps the Bruins GM will look at trading Milan Lucic or Brad Marchand -- both have no-trade clauses -- even though heís gone on record saying that heís not inclined to trade either player.
Currently, the Bruins have 12 players locked up for $55 million in cap space for the 2015-16 season. Theyíll get additional space when they put Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve, with an expected salary cap between $71 and $73 million for next season, Chiarelli has to keep this in the back of his mind going into the deadline.
The question for Chiarelli is does he buy, sell or stand pat? His mishandling of the salary cap and questionable contract extensions and no-trade clauses have put the Bís in this position, but heíll need to find a way to salvage the situation. Otherwise, the rumors of his departure could heat up if things go from bad to worse with the Black and Gold.
On Bruins Daily: B's frustration grows after loss to Flames