While there are very clearly strengths and weaknesses with each and every NHL general manager, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has no equal in the league when it comes to contract efficiency. At least that’s at the heart of a recent NHL contract efficiency ranking put together by “The Athletic” that rated the B’s as the NHL’s top team in contract efficiency with the word “elite” ascribed to them by author and noted fancy stats guru Dom Luszczyszyn.
It’s probably not that much of an out-and-out shock given that the current long term deals for Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are widely considered the best bargains in the league, but there are other high value deals currently under the Boston Bruins salary cap as well.
Part of the top-flight ranking, of course, was due to the Bruins ridding themselves of the David Backes albatross contract at last season’s trade deadline. It leaves the John Moore deal as probably the least efficient contract on the Boston books outside of the big money David Krejci deal that’s expiring following this upcoming season. But the B’s also needed to sacrifice their 2020 first round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in order to move Backes to Anaheim in exchange for Ondrej Kase, and that kind of thing isn’t really factored into the final rankings.
Anyway, here’s what Luszczyszyn had to say about a Bruins team that rose from fifth overall last offseason to tops in the NHL in this year’s rankings:
“The team with the two best deals in the league naturally comes out on top. It wasn’t all that close. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand provide Boston with immense surplus value, but the team has three other deals in the “A” range that help too. Patrice Bergeron’s deal is right there in value and only in a lesser standing due to a shorter term. Ditto Charlie McAvoy, the team’s top defender. Matt Grzelcyk isn’t a household name, but he can provide immense value if he’s moved up the lineup, especially if he gets a crack on the top power play in the absence of Torey Krug. Add Craig Smith’s excellent deal to that and the Bruins are getting a lot for a low price.
After moving David Backes, the team is also low on millstones, with only a couple of problematic contracts. That’s something nearly every team has, and when a team is getting such immense surplus value at the top of the lineup it certainly matters a lot less. The Bruins were best in surplus value and cost per win and second in positive value probability. Elite.”
Interestingly enough, the criteria for the rankings put Charlie Coyle’s new contract extension paying him $5.3 million per season in the “negative surplus” category with only Chris Wagner’s new deal ranking lower among Bruins forwards.
The Boston Bruins are in a decent cap situation currently with roughly $7 million in cap space and only restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk left to sign, but the roster could still use improvement after the B’s lost Torey Krug to the St. Louis Blues in free agency last month.
Clearly retaining his own players at superb value is a strength of Sweeney as a manager just as free agency signings and trade deadline moves are very much a mixed bag for Boston’s general manager.
It’s good news for the Black and Gold when it comes to creating salary cap space and getting value with every last dollar, but it also means the Bruins often shy away from spending top dollar on available players. That means the Bruins are often on the outside looking in when it comes to acquiring top players around the league, something we’ve seen this offseason as they’ve fallen short in efforts to acquire players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Taylor Hall.
The contract efficiency efforts also explain why the Bruins are among a handful of teams currently in a holding pattern when it comes to free agent winger Mike Hoffman, who remains of interest to the B’s while unsigned despite being a proven 30-goal scorer in the NHL willing to accept a one-year contract for next season.