Potential 2004 UFA list
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09-29-2003, 10:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Bay area, California
Gary - there sure are some serious players on that list. Surely several of them wouldn't be there if their paychecks weren't so astronomical. Thank the Lord these outrageous salaries are looking like they are coming to an end.
Bruwinz20 - Don't start it up with me again -- juuuuust kidding.
Seriously, I know where you are coming from. We both know that sadly enough, the Bruins are not in any shape to make a serious run (again), unless they land Burke and somehow get a real #2 center. So then it seems like it would make sense to dump off these short term assets, reload for next year and be done with it.
However, there are a few problems I can see. One, with the great emphasis Jeremy Jacobs places on the business, he would never endorse a plan that guts his team's chances for the playoffs. He's said it himself that he doesn't agreee with how some of these teams deplete their talent and then have to languish as they rebuild. I can see his point about how the product would not be "attractive," but let's also be real here, JJ knows his bottom line would be at risk. I don't think it's any mistake that we've never heard peep from him as the Bruins made the playoffs 30 years straight yet never won a cup. Sure the B's were close a few times, but I think evidence is overwhelming that JJ is a business man first, fan second. So I guess I'm saying that in my mind, that rules out the B's intentionally jeopardizing their chance for the playoffs, unless they are already far out of it like in 1996.
The second problem I see is that I believe this year will be much different in terms of the trade market. High salary players and pending UFAs may end up having low value by virtue of a saturated market. That doesn't mean I think Kovalev would go for an 8th pick if he was being shopped, but it could mean the return on players that we don't want to keep is not what we would get in year's past (Rolston, O'Donnell, McGillis). Nobody can be sure, but that's the read I have.
I think what we will see happen is more of the same. The Bruins will abide by their financial policies and try to manage the best they can around it, quite possible jeopardizing their chance for higher competition in the process. Maybe they make some offers to a few of their pending UFAs before they actually reach free agency. The carrot could be a chance for the player to line up a multi-year deal in a time of uncertainty. For instance, the B's could say to Rolston, "we're offering you a chance to make $10M over the next three years while having the peace of mind that comes with security and a team that wants you." Who knows.
I do think that it's entirely possible O'Connell may wait it out altogether, regardless of the possibility that he may lose key players. He may believe that if the UFA threshold is lowered and a cap is instituted, then the market will be flush with talent and the demand will be limited due to "cost certainty." The thing is, nothing is guaranteed. Meanwhile, he runs the risk of losing needed or talented players that may be hard to replace. It's not just the talent the B's lose, it's the character, roster longevity, presence, etc.
To that end, I like your plan of targeting the right players and then ensuring they are retained. Murray and Knuble are excellent picks. I would like one of McGillis or O'Donnell too, believing that veteran experience on the backline is of paramount importance. I think they should be doing this regardless of their record this season. They need to build around certain players, and they should figure out which ones are key to their future. Again, in my mind, it's not only about talent but intangibles. As Gary noted in the other string about leadership, the Bruins can help themselves establish a level of accountability, leadership and longevity by picking and keeping the right players over the long haul.
As you said, if the B's lose a few players, then with their young talented prospects and the potential candidates on the UFA market, they could hopefully put a few more core pieces in place to build around for another 3-4 years. However, what I would like to see stop over the next few seasons now that the B's are looking to the CBA as their savior is the short term, fly-by-your-pants reactionary driven strategy that hasn't gotten the job done. The Bruins should be looking to build a quality top-4 and two scoring lines that they can take to the bank for a better part of 4-5 years. With Thornton, Samsonov, Boynton, Axelsson and a ton of young talent in the form of Jillson, Jurcina, Morrisonn, Bergeron, Samuelsson, Huml, Toivonen, Stuart, etc etc, they have the makings in place to do it. All they need to do is put the pieces together and add the right players as needed from the outside and KEEP THE GROUP INTACT.
Though I think what JJ said in "we'll see how good my management really is" is quite shortsighted and even hypocritical considering he is top dog who ultimately demands the accountability for success (not to mention evangelizes the organizational philosophies), there is truth to it. If the NHL gets it's cost certainty, then there will be no more excuses for management about not being able to keep players or arrange a winning plan. Still, your point about O'Connell being under pressure and possibly taking heat for moves that may be for the best is quite valid. Fans and the media may not understand the full picture, and they may only care about the short term gratification. If O'C loses Murray, Rolston & McGillis because he's planning for a better tomorrow, he will definitely take a ton of flack. People may not be able to see that a huge group of UFAs may become available, or that few teams will be in a better position to spend than the B's.
Who knows, but I can say that I just hope they do the right thing. I am very suspicious of their judgment and motivations though...very. This is their big chance to ultimately redeem themselves and show once and for all that they really do care about winning.
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