The Boston Bruins in "How to Go From Cap Catastrophe to Potential Dynasty in Two Easy Trades"

Brian Burke: architect of the cap-friendliest contending teams in the NHL (Anaheim and … uh, Boston, indirectly)
At first, it seemed like the Bruins were as hapless as a 13-year old trying to unhook a bra in the dark. In my preview, I criticized the Bruins for basically giving up on Phil Kessel … for Derek Morris. Even if that was a case of obvious oversimplification, my question was: what were the Boston Bruins doing?

Perhaps it came down to a simple decision of Marc Savard over Phil Kessel.
Either way, the Bruins have parlayed Kessel and now Chuck Kobasew into an intriguing bounty of draft picks and cap relief.
Boston Gives Up
Kessel (to Toronto)
Kobasew (to Minnesota)
Boston Gains
2 First Round Picks (Toronto in ’10 and ’11)
2 Second Round Picks (Toronto in ’10 and Minnesota in ’11)
Craig Weller
Alex Fallstrom
$2.3 million in cap space
As others pointed out, the Bruins probably moved Kobasew to make room for Savard, Blake Wheeler and other valuable free agents (restricted and otherwise).
What this really does is give the Bruins the opportunity to “re-load” with quality depth while most other playoff-caliber teams will begin to hemorrhage supporting cast members. Especially if the cap ceiling plummets for the 2010-11 season.

With Kobasew gone and deals like Morris’ set to expire, the prospects of the Bruins re-signing Savard (above) and Wheeler are looking much brighter.

Some have said that the Maple Leafs’ staggering ineptitude may not continue, but realistically what is the ceiling for Toronto this year (or even next)? The fact of the matter is that these aren’t just draft picks, they might be top-10 or even top 5 draft picks. It’s not every day that the top seed in the Eastern Conference could end up with two potential lottery picks that didn’t result from a regular season free fall.

Just look at the situations of similarly talented – and cap challenged – teams going into next summer.
A major problem with the Blackhawks salary structure is that there’s a glaring lack of cheap talent. While the Penguins have some extremely expensive stars, they also have cheap role players like Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy.
Now obviously high draft picks take some time to translate to useful NHLers and some never pan out at all. But by adding a handful of top quality picks in years when the Bruins would normally be drafting in the bottom 10, Boston is sitting fairly pretty in a cap world full of uncertainty. They can stick with those draft picks and try to find roster talent for the future or trade picks for other quality parts.
The point is, they have options. That’s something that Chicago, San Jose and many other cap conflicted teams will envy next summer.
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