Re: Cap Update
posted at 7/20/2014 9:14 AM EDT
Yeah, I think that's going to end up being far more important than it should be. Are you paying your horses so much that you can only afford a fourth line of Jordan Carons (sort of like expendable stormtroopers...) or have you reserved a certain amount of cap space to pay for savvy veterans who can play fourth line minutes but also kick in on the PK and, in a pinch, move up the lineup and fill in with some level of competence? No one would choose to play Campbell and Paille in the top six, but in a pinch, they're not going to hurt you. They'll muck, get the puck to their more skilled linemates, go hard to the net - that is, do the basics - like veterans. Watching even Fraser in the playoffs, there were times where it was like watching a puppy playing with big dogs - something ungainly or awkward about it and a certain amount of deference that you can't have and be successful.
Teams might also change the expectations of fourth lines, and the strategy for using the players on them. It's become a roll four lines league, though, so they'll have to be a bit creative, but there are some obvious options. There's the crash line option where you put a bunch of guys who might not have NHL hands, but can skate and will take the body. It's the classic energy line configuration, and if you can get big guys who can also skate and play with discipline, it works pretty well. Problem is, when those big guys who can skate have any hands whatsoever - and I mean, they don't just have stumps where their hands should be, but opposable thumbs and everything - they become $2M players like Brian Boyle.
Then there's the Merlot option, where you have two good PK players and stash a clown in there, and the line basically plays like it's on the PK the whole time it's on the ice. Frustrate, hound, work the puck into the offensive zone, get off the ice.
The third option is the kids option where you put a few guys on entry level or just-off-entry level deals together and just...let them play. They have to play the system, of course, but you're not giving them a limited role to just generate "energy" - you're putting them together to try and use their talents. I'm thinking you might even try the first line in Providence from the previous year and see if whatever chemistry they had comes up with them. The thing I like about this option is that you can spot the guys who are getting it higher in the lineup a few times a game to get them some extra ice. Bruins kill a PK, put Spooner out with Marchand and Smith and give Bergeron a shift off. Or after a PP, put Marchand with Spooner and Fraser for a shift. It would require a little more shimmy in the rolling of lines than CJ likes, but it would be an interesting way to get guys ice time.
The reason why I don't think we'll see that in Boston is the Lesson of Jordy. When Claude et. al think a guy has the ability to play NHL hockey, they clearly believe the key to his success if giving him a role he can focus on. It was different with Seguin and Hamilton because they weren't ready, but they also were too talented to not succeed on abilities alone at other levels, so they'd lose that motivation you get from fear of failure. I think about Caron, but they did this with Marchand at first, and with Krejci, and with Lucic, and with Krug last year. McQuaid. We forget how simple McQuaid kept it in the Cup run - he was the perfect partner for Kaber - Ole!.
All of these options will run you between about $2.1M and $4M for your fourth line. It's entirely possible that saving that $1.9M elsewhere will make a difference in the playoffs somewhere along the line when depth and the ability to fill in for injured players can be everything.
Are you not entertained?!?!