If you are like Bruce Garrioch and had former Ottawa Senator Chris Kelly on your shortlist of players who you would like to see the organization pursue when the clock strikes noon on July 1st and the NHL free agent market opens, news that the Bruins are currently renegotiating with Kelly will dampen your mood.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is negotiating with Chris Kelly to re-sign the alternate captain. Kelly is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“He’s a good, versatile player who had a career year,” Chiarelli said. “He’s a veteran who won a Cup. That’s hard to replace. He’s told me he wants to stay.”
Kelly is coming off a four-year, $8.5 million contract. The 31-year-old would require a raise to re-sign with the Bruins. If Kelly reaches the open market, Ottawa might be interested in bringing back the former Senator. Kelly’s primary residence is in Ottawa.
If Kelly’s looking for a raise from his average annual salary of $2.125 million, it’d be well within Ottawa’s best interests to pass on Kelly’s contractual demands as well.
Don’t get me wrong, Kelly would have some utility as a veteran third line center, especially since I have some reservations about Zack Smith’s future at the position. (Note: I believe Smith’s game could be better suited to the wing.)
Without knowing the parameters of the next CBA, regardless of Ottawa’s current cap situation, it would be ill advised to spend decent money on the third line center position when there are so many internal candidates – ie. Regin or Smith – who should continue to develop and hopefully put up Kelly-like replacement value numbers at one-third the salary.
The danger for any team in inking Kelly to a new deal is that he was the benefactor of some ridiculous underlying on-ice metrics.
According to Behind the Net, at 5v5, Kelly and his linemates shot 11.3% while his goaltender’s save percentage was .943%.
Considering his own 2011/12 shooting percentage of 16.4% was almost 5.0% higher than his career average of 11.6% and approximately 3.0% higher than his second best season (13.5%), the likelihood that Kelly could replicate that production while playing with potential linemates like Colin Greening and Chris Neil would be incredibly low.
To his credit, he had one of his best NHL seasons and will want to get paid for it, unfortunately for him, it shouldn’t be the Ottawa Senators who will be footing the bill. After Eugene Melnyk’s humbling acknowledgement that a high payroll doesn’t necessarily translate into on-ice success, as a team with limited financial resources, Ottawa would be better off finding and investing in an upgrade/replacement for Filip Kuba. Cough. Cough. Jason Garrison. Cough. Cough.
For the past few months, we’ve been inundated with reminders from management about this team’s compete level and how this internal competition is invaluable for this team’s progression.
As the young prospects push some of the incumbent players, it forces everyone to work that much harder to earn their keep and helps foster that hardworking, blue collar mentality that so many of the best NHL teams have.
With that being said, thanks to an article penned by the Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan, it’s exciting to learn that Kyle Turris and Patrick Wiercioch, two players who could desperately use the offseason to bulk up and improve their strength, are already in town working out with Chris Schwartz in preparation for next fall.
With an offseason to train with Ottawa’s staff and no worries about missing next fall’s training camp, big things are expected from Turris. The combination of his hockey acumen, skill set and ability to play against the other team’s top lines hasn’t gone unnoticed. If he can fix the one flaw to his game — his size and strength — he has the ability to become an integral piece of this team’s core.