The 2021-22 NHL regular season opens this week, though the Boston Bruins won’t play their first game until Oct. 16, opening the campaign at the TD Garden against the Dallas Stars in a little under a week from now.
The news broke yesterday that a pair of veterans in forward Chris Wagner and defenseman John Moore had been placed on waivers. The move frees up about $2.25 million in cap space (both contracts account for $4.1 million), assuming no team claims either player and their cap hits are “buried” in the AHL at a $1.8 million max allocation per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.
It’s a tough ending for 2009 first-round pick Moore in Boston, who signed a five-year contract with the Bruins in 2018 at a decent cap hit ($2.75M per year) had he become a stable second pairing defender over the life of the deal. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to live up to the expectations and became a lightning rod for criticism as an overpaid role player who never really got comfortable under Bruce Cassidy. Wagner, a Walpole native who played college hockey at Colgate, lived his childhood dream of playing for his favorite Bruins team. He even won the 2019 Seventh Player Award after a career-best 12 goals in 76 games and a gritty performance on the fourth line, and was on the club’s run to the Stanley Cup final that spring.
Both were signed through 2023, but hockey is a business and every cap dollar counts for the Bruins going forward. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the pair, as both are good soldier types, and Don Sweeney reportedly tried to trade them to avoid this situation, but found no takers.
With the team moving on without the two veterans at least for now, it is time to answer five burning questions for the Bruins at the dawn of the new season and see what might be on the road ahead for the team.