The Boston Bruins placed sometimes fourth line winger/sometimes thirteenth forward Craig Smith on waivers on Sunday. The 33-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The Bruins have tried on a few occasions to trade Smith but have been unable to close a deal. Every team that would have interest just doesn’t have the cap space and would require the Bruins to take salary back – something they themselves can’t afford to do.
So, why would the Bruins waive Smith now? Well, there are several reasons but I must point out that just because he was placed on waivers does not mean he will be sent to Providence of the AHL. And I must also point out that Smith can remain on the Boston roster for 30 days or play in 10 games before requiring waivers again, meaning he can be “sent up and down” in paper transactions to bank cap space.
Assuming Smith does not get claimed, the most important reason for waivers today is the Holiday Roster Freeze which goes into effect midnight tomorrow until midnight on December 27. It was the last opportunity to do so until after the roster freeze and gives the Bruins a chance to bank some much-needed cap space, however small it might be.
As mentioned above, Smith can play in the next 10 games and be sent up and down without requiring waivers again. It just so happens that the Bruins 10th game following the waivers is the first game after the World Junior Championships are over and thus opening up a spot for Fabian Lysell if the Bruins wish to give him a shot in the NHL once the WJC are over.
Now, how does this affect the cap?
Well, If Smith is claimed tomorrow, he will have a cap hit to the Bruins of $1,156,216 for the time he has spent on the roster, meaning that $1,943,784 will be cleared in cap space. This move alone will add about $5.1 million deadline cap space for Boston, meaning they can add a player with an AAV of $5.24 million as opposed to a player with an AAV of $148,000 (they don’t exist) before this move.
If Smith goes unclaimed and the Bruins actually send Smith to Providence, it gets a little more complicated, but Boston would save $705,405 on the cap. That would still increase the Bruins deadline cap space to $3,255,546, meaning they could add a player with that much of an AAV on trade deadline.
I’ve mentioned this since the preseason, but it looked and sounded as though Smith was going to be the odd man out. And while the Bruins are hoping to improve on AJ Greer and have him as the thirteenth forward, the hope was trading Smith would bring in that player.
Unfortunately, we live in a cap world.