June 11, 2012

Analyzing the new multi-year deals for Campbell, Kelly

By Jesse Connolly

Though the Bruins have yet to make it official, countless outlets have confirmed that the B's have signed center Chris Kelly and Greg Campbell to multi-year deals. 

Chris Kelly's new deal with Boston runs through the 2015-16 season. (Getty Images)

Kelly, coming off of a career-high 20 goals, will earn a total of $12 million over the next four seasons. Campbell’s will make a total of $4.8 million over the next three seasons.

My assorted thoughts on the new contracts (apologies if you’ve already encountered some of these on Twitter):

* There are plenty of reasons why I’m not an NHL GM, but if I had the choice, I’d shave a year off the length of each of these deals. Kelly will turn 35 during the fourth season of his new deal.

* In Campbell’s case, the cap hit is just a small pinch too high, but there’s no sense in really crying about a difference of a few hundred thousand dollars.

* The notion that Kelly is overpaid seems bogus to me. If posting a career-high in goals and points, while ranking third in the NHL in plus-minus, doesn’t earn you a raise, then for crying out loud, what does?

Experts will throw out in-depth statistics, but they don’t reveal anything we didn’t already know. Yes, Kelly is 31 and luck was probably somewhat of a factor in his career year last season. But with the cap going up exponentially since its inception, and expected to be $70.3 million next year, how is $3 million an overpayment, given what Kelly brings to the table? $3 million is 4.2 percent of $70.3 million, which basically means that the Bruins could sign Chris Kelly 25 times over and not go over the cap.

* Usually everything I write about the B’s is glowingly positive, but I would’ve been okay with the team giving some new blood/up-and-comers a better shot at sticking with the big club. We all know that coach Claude Julien likes to stick with “his guys” and almost always goes with the experienced vet over the unpolished youngster. Other than Blake Wheeler, few players have nudged a proven pro out of the picture and “stolen” a job. In Wheeler's case, that vet was Peter Schaefer, which isn't saying much.

Anyone hoping to crack the B’s bottom six next season is now up against it. With Campbell back, the entire Merlot Line (Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille) is now intact for 2012-13. Kelly and Rich Peverley will likely remain on the third line, leaving just one open spot in Boston’s entire forward corps (Benoit Pouliot remains a restricted free agent).

Sure, there’s always a chance that there’s a genuine competition for all of those bottom-six spots when camp rolls around, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it. Campbell’s been a very good soldier during his time here, but he tends to get a bit over-valued due to his contributions during Boston’s Cup run. The Bruins are in fine shape if he continues to chip in the odd goal, log solid PK time and anchor the fourth line, but to me, three years just seems a little long for a guy who has plenty of good qualities but is still a replaceable player.

* Going back to the cap front, everyone needs to stop panicking about the Bruins’ glut of prominent free agents next summer. Yes, a new CBA needs to be worked out, but the fact remains that the cap has gone from $39 million in 2005-06 to $56 .7 million in 2008-09 up to 64.3 million this season. It’s currently expects to make its second biggest year-to-year leap, jumping to over 70 million. Odds are high it’ll be up once again for the 2013-14 campaign. So quit worrying. Peter Chiarelli hasn’t handcuffed himself and ruined the future of this team by committing a combined 4.6 million to two centers.

* Who doesn't love a little continuity? Kelly and Campbell are two of the most likeable guys on the team, both on and off the ice. It'll be fun to see seemingly the exact same group of players -- shy of Tim Thomas, of course -- take another shot at capturing the Cup next season.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.