Depth. It’s something every National Hockey League General Manager requires because you never know when injuries will occur. And with COVID-19, that requirement is compounded. It’s no different for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. And he will soon need to make a decision on defenceman John Moore.
The Bruins have already lost defenceman Jakob Zboril for the season. Zboril was in the midst of his best professional season and proving he could be a top-4 on the backend.
Moore had cleared waivers early in the season and there wasn’t much doubt among the Bruins faithful that with his $2,750,000 cap hit, he would go untouched. But now, He is forced into the seventh defenceman role.
Here’s what has changed: Tuukka Rask is on his way back and he will need a contract, and the Bruins need cap space to make it happen. For the time being, Sweeney could decide to keep Moore on the Taxi Squad where his cap hit doesn’t count against the cap – and the Taxi Squad is only available until the all-star break. But if he’s needed, he’s eating away valuable cap space. But if the Bruins are going to carry three goaltenders through the rest of the season like I expect they will, they won’t just need cap space, but a roster spot on the 23-man roster.
That’s the first issue Sweeney needs to solve.
But there is a second issue that needs attention that could hurt the already bleak depth on the Bruins blue line.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Bruins were able to recall Moore to the NHL without fear of losing him to waivers should they decide to send him back down to Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. However, that waiver exemption is about to expire.
Under the CBA, Moore would not require waivers again unless he appears in 10 games or is on the active roster for 30 days. While Moore has played in just 4 games, he has been on the active roster for 24 days, leaving just 6 days he can be on the roster and the Bruins keep the waiver exemption. And that timeframe is when we expect Rask to return.
The difference between waivers this time and earlier in the season is key here. Many teams could not afford the $2,750,00 cap hit nor did they want too. But this is day 86 of the NHL season and if the Bruins keep Moore up for the remainder of the waiver exemption period and demote him the day after, we are looking at day 93 of the NHL season. That means if he were to go on waivers the second time, his cap hit to an acquiring team would only be $1,471,250 and some team looking for depth could find that more palatable.
To lose Moore would mean Jack Ahcan or Urho Vaakanainen would be your next man up. That doesn’t necessarily bestow confidence.