Missed in all the massive Boston Bruins news over the last week was the underrated nugget that the B’s weren’t actively planning on executing any contract buyouts this summer.
There was speculation that the Boston Bruins might buy Nick Foligno out of the final year of a two-year, $7.6 million contract after a disappointing first season in Boston where the 34-year-old posted two goals, 13 points and a minus-13 in 64 games with the Black and Gold while mostly manning the left wing on the fourth line. It was clear that Nick Foligno’s troublesome back bothered him at points during the season along with other assorted injuries, but he did at least finish the season healthy and with an uptick in play.
A buyout would have saved the Boston Bruins almost $2 million in cap space for the 2022-23 NHL season while leaving a $933,000 cap hit on the Boston books for each of the next two seasons because out of the buyout. But Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney said in his press conference dismissing head coach Bruce Cassidy that the Black and Gold weren’t currently looking at any contract buyouts as they face a crossroads with a hockey team waiting on a career decision from Patrice Bergeron.
“Not today, I don’t,” said Sweeney back on June 7 if he anticipated buying out any contracts. “Not while I sit here today. It could change, but no [buyout plans].”
Injuries really derailed Foligno’s momentum early in the season, but he at least settled into a physical, gritty role with the Boston Bruins even if it seemed clear he was having trouble keeping up with the NHL pace. Many younger players like Trent Frederic pointed to Foligno as a very valuable player in terms of veteran leadership this season even if the production wasn’t there on the ice.
“Foligno plays like that [physical style] and we would talk about it,” said Frederic, of where he would go to for advice about playing a physical style while avoiding costly penalties. “He’s spent a lot of years in this league and he talks a lot about ‘the line’ I guess you would call it, and how to walk it. Sometimes it felt like ‘the line’ wasn’t where it used to be or there was no line. It’s funny how it goes sometimes when you do something and get away with it, and other times you don’t really do anything, and you get a call. It’s a funny game how it all works. I think next year I wouldn’t think about it as much and next year I’m just going to play.”
One thing to watch with Foligno and a new coach: A potential change in role as it seemed at times like the veteran winger wasn’t always thrilled with his role in Boston even if the performances didn’t really back up a permanent move up in the forward lineup.
“It was a trying year in a lot of ways,” said Foligno, who back in May had planned on staying in Boston until his kids were out of school this month. “I was happy in the fact that I thought we were an effective line. When I got put in that role it was a conversation Butch and I had. You obviously want to impact the room and do things the way you think you’re capable of, but I think at that time it was probably the best role for me in general with the way the year had gone.
“It was kind of hard when I was kind of bouncing around trying to find a role, and once we settled on that I was trying to put my best foot forward. I’ve always said I was going to do whatever the team needs me to do to help push this thing along. I thought we had a really good playoff as a line to create momentum and havoc, and it’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the job done,” said Foligno. “It’s unfortunate it wasn’t higher up in the lineup and I take a little bit of responsibility for that, but one thing about me is that I’m going to come back stronger. I’m looking forward to that opportunity overall.”
It sounds like the Boston Bruins are looking forward to that as well as they aren’t really looking at contract buyouts even with just $1.49 million in available cap space headed into this summer’s offseason. Honestly, it probably makes more sense to just absorb the final year of Foligno’s contract if the Boston Bruins are already bracing for a difficult season with the surgeries, roster turnover and the implementation of a new coaching staff in Boston.