Bruins president Cam Neely is expecting some improvement from the team this season despite not making many substantial changes to the roster, writes Joe Haggerty of CSN New England. Boston’s big offseason acquisition was signing center David Backes away from St. Louis but despite giving him $6MM per season for five years, Neely envisions Backes potentially as a bottom six forward at times:
“He could be a great third line centermen for us, and, depending on the game situation if we’re trying to shut somebody down while we’re protecting a lead, he could slide up with either [David] Krejci or [Patrice] Bergeron on the right side.”
One area that the team was seeking an upgrade in was the back end but aside from re-signing John-Michael Liles and buying out Dennis Seidenberg, nothing else has been done in that area. Neely noted that GM Don Sweeney has been working hard to try to do something there and that they have the cap space (a little over $5.8MM according to Cap Friendly) to make some additions if the right fit presents itself. Kris Russell remains the most prominent blueliner on the UFA market while Kevin Shattenkirk’s name continues to come up in trade speculation.
[Related: Bruins Depth Chart]
More from the Atlantic Division:
- Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has been dealing with a hip impingement for the last four years but continues to put off surgery, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press writes. The surgery to correct the problem would take him out of action for four months. Ericsson played in 71 games with Detroit last season, scoring three goals while adding 12 assists. He averaged 18:32 of ice time per game, his lowest ATOI since 2011-12. He’s under contract with the Wings through 2019-20, carrying a cap hit of $4.25MM per year.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs are facing a bonus overage penalty from last year of roughly $512K, reports Cap Friendly on Twitter. The Leafs finished last season using LTIR (which brings cap space available to $0) and had three players achieve performance bonuses in their contracts. As a result, Toronto will have a spending limit of $72.488MM (the salary cap less last year’s overage). With Nathan Horton plus potentially any of Jared Cowen, Joffrey Lupul, and Stephane Robidas expected to be on LTIR this year and several prominent youngsters with bonuses in their deals, the Leafs may find themselves in a similar situation next season.