The Cam Fowler factor

Opening with this…(not just because it’s great- thanks to those on Twitter who turned me onto it a few months back when I asked about their favorite cover songs of all time- but because this is kind of how I am gauging that Bruins fans feel about the efforts to shore up the defense since the offseason began way back in April.)

(Video courtesy of Disturbed)

Now, for the hockey part of the post-

If Blues veteran D Kevin Shattenkirk is likely off the table as described in the post today on Boston’s ongoing help for upgrades at the defense position, and with Jason Demers off to Florida for a solid 5-years and $4.5M a pop, is it time to revisit Anaheim’s Cam Fowler?

The 2010 1st-rounder (12th overall) from Michigan via the OHL’s Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires was rumored to be of interest by the Bruins on draft weekend. If true, can’t imagine that interest has waned. If the B’s can figure out how to make salaries match up, they certainly have some prime young assets in the system that might make Ducks GM Bob Murray budge. Would a playoff-tested SC champion like Adam McQuaid make sense for Anaheim as a starting point, with pot sweetened with another player and/or prospect? From a sheer talent-for-talent standpoint, McQuaid-Fowler doesn’t happen, but the GM is trying to win a Cup and Boston’s third-pairing baggage smasher has been there and done that. Don’t underestimate the value GMs place on veteran winners like that, even if a 1-for-1 swap won’t happen.

Fowler’s your “bridge”- he makes $4M and has 2 years left to UFA status, meaning he gives the Bruins two seasons before they have to make a decision and brings them two years closer to seeing one of their recent top-60 D selections evolve further to see where they might be as NHL players. The issue with Fowler is that he shoots left, whereas the B’s need to shore up their right-shooting talent. So, in essence- if the B’s are able to go out and get Fowler, they then probably need to add another right-shot D for depth and hope that Colin Miller takes a big step next season for them.

Interlude…some Fowler highlights (courtesy rollingdux)

Fowler is a slick offense-minded guy who boosts the power play, but isn’t the heavy-on-the-puck defensive presence that the Bruins prize, either. His Corsi numbers put him closer to a 3rd-pairing guy than a top-4 that the B’s prize, but on a defense by committee approach, Fowler isn’t the worst idea. ¬†That could be a sticking point in terms of how much pursuit Boston is willing to engage in here. Ideally, Hampus Lindholm would be the prize from Anaheim, but let’s get real- not happening. If it does come to pass, then short of a catastrophic scenario of a return going to the Ducks, I’d say the Boston GM will have earned the “Sweenius” nickname.

As for other options…James Wisniewski shoots right and is still out there as of July 2, but after signing a big bucks deal with Columbus in 2011, he had one impressive 51-point campaign in 2013-14, sandwiched by a lot of mediocrity and injuries. Can’t imagine the Bruins are willing to invest a great deal on him, but with his buy-out, who knows? He might be champing at the bit to get a short-term deal done and prove his worth. The Wiz presents a major injury risk, but he could add an element of boom potential as well.

You’d think that if fellow 2010 draft pick Brandon Gormley was of interest, the B’s would have added him already. For another downright disappointment, former Ducks prospect and uber-collegian¬†Justin Schultz helped the Penguins win a Stanley Cup and then was not QO’d. Go figure. And to think- I was once mocked for daring to suggest that the Bruins got the best free agent D in Torey Krug in 2012 when they signed him out of Michigan State. Take that, Twitter!

The Bruins have had bad luck with Russians and this guy is another left-shooter, but if I’m Don Sweeney, I pick up the phone and dial Brian McLellan to see if the Capitals are willing to talk trade for Dmitri Orlov. Just saying- the advanced stats crowd will tell you that he’s undervalued, and you don’t hear much about him coming out of D.C. these days.

The very excellent cap resource General Fanager has a list of available free agents here:

http://www.generalfanager.com/freeagents

General Fanager has picked up the torch where Cap Geek blazed a bold trail. In truth- I miss my old Hockey’s Future buddy and CG founder Matthew Wuest– you touched so many, my friend. Godspeed to you and those who loved you the most. RIP, Matt.

But, let’s get back to the topic at hand: If Fowler is indeed dealt, add him to the growing list of top-30 picks from that pretty solid draft class that has been traded. 15 of the 30 are no longer with the teams that drafted them before age 25, and Fowler would push the needle north of 50 percent. That’s unheard of, even if ultimately trivial to the matter at hand.

4 more years! Krug signs $5.25M AAV with B’s

ToreyKrug10082

Torey Krug has been consistent in the early going on a defensive unit that has had some tough nights. (Photo courtesy of Alison M. Foley)

More grist to discuss in the forthcoming 3 Amigos- LTD podcast tonight, but the Boston Bruins announced that defenseman Torey Krug has signed a four-year extension worth an annual cap hit of $5.25M.

This simply had to be done.

Krug catches a lot of flak- a lot- because he’s an undersized defender. He’s got terrific hockey sense and the heart of a lion. I can’t get over how so many pretty intelligent people still see him as “just” specialist, but we’ll have to agree to disagree, I suppose- until Krug brings them into the light.

First- the contract…it’s about right for what players similar to Krug are getting. Just look at Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon (Krug is a better player- more productive and in all three zones, IMO) or Anaheim’s Sami Vatanen. He’s right in the ballpark for what it takes, and I think those who take the stance that he’s “not worth it” or “overpaid” are brimming with suggestions of just how able Boston would have been to offer up the absurd $3-3.5M numbers that have been bandied about on Twitter and certain fan circles. You can feel that way all you want, but reality set in and TSP is fully on board with the numbers Krug got- he earned it.

Another way of looking at it is this: he shot about 1 percent in 2015-16 (4 goals), which was drastically down from his previous 8-9 percent from past seasons. If Krug had gone out and pumped in an additional 10-12 goals over what he got and finished with 55-60 points instead of his career high 44 (40 helpers), then the Bruins would have been paying a lot more to extend him. His low goal totals were actually a blessing in disguise. And don’t forget- he had an injured shoulder and played through it without complaint. If you don’t think that affected his shot, then I have some awesome ocean front property in Manitoba to sell you.

The real issue with Krug is relatively simple- he needs a better defense partner than Adam McQuaid. The former Michigan State captain’s lack of size limits him, so it makes sense to pair him with a bigger, heavier shutdown guy. But McQuaid’s lack of mobility and puck skills contributed to the pair being exposed and exploited at times. When the play did go down into the offensive zone, Boston’s scoring potential was capped by Quaider’s lack of skill/offensive pop. Krug would probably do better with someone like Brandon Carlo or Rob O’Gara, or, if the rumors are to be believed- free agent Jason Demers (assuming the Bruins can win the bidding for him in July). McQuaid is a great guy and his role on this team (though with Kevan Miller, something’s gotta give- the B’s can’t afford to keep both) belongs on the bottom pairing, but the B’s need Krug playing more minutes in all situations, and so he’s got to have a more effective partner going forward.

We owe you a more comprehensive Torey Krug piece and it is coming…perhaps when things settle down a bit. But if there is one guy on this team that many feel like the Boston fans don’t deserve at times because they simply do not get it when it comes to him- it’s Krug. We’ll try, but suspect there is a small percentage of people who, no matter what the statistical and visual evidence says to the contrary, are just going to focus on his lack of size and pigeonhole him as someone who can’t make a difference.

He made a much bigger impact this year than some want to admit, and he’s earned this latest contract, which will take him to unrestricted free agency at age 29 in the summer of 2020. For now, watch him earn every penny.

For a fanbase that claims to be intelligent, informed and passionate about having guys with skill who care, it is utterly inconceivable that anyone is against this signing. In about a year, Krug will be a legitimate bargain at $5.25M through 2020.

If I have any real criticism of the deal- it’s that the Bruins didn’t sign him for seven years instead of four. Yes, I like him that much- he’s worth it.