Over this past summer, Bruins GM Don Sweeney was faced with a difficult decision during free agency with limited cap space available. The fanbase was clamoring to retain key deadline acquisitions in Tyler Bertuzzi and Dmitri Orlov, but doing so would eat up too much money to fill out the rest of the roster. Instead, he opted to let them walk and spread the cap space over several players to plug the holes.
Among those bargain deals were James Van Riemsdyk, Kevin Shattenkirk, Danton Heinen and Morgan Geekie. None of them account for more than $2 million against the cap and have combined for 81 points. If it wasn’t certain before Heinen’s hat trick against Montreal, it is now: Sweeney’s summer bargains are paying off.
Van Riemsdyk has been leading the pace for this group, recording 29 points in 41 games.
He’s spent most of his time on the third line with Coyle and Frederic and on the power play. His goal scoring isn’t what it was in his prime but he is still an impact player, evident by his team leading 66% Expected Goals figure. Nothing wrong with a veteran winger on a 58 point pace for $1 million against the cap.
Shattenkirk was the second major signing Sweeney made on the first day of free agency.
Like JVR, Shattenkirk signed for one year at $1 million, and was essentially a discount replacement for Orlov. Shattenkirk has always been an offensive defenseman dating back to his BU days, and that has been no different today. Per Statmuse, Shattenkirk is averaging 1:24 per game on the power play, manning the point on the second unit.
For the season he has 13 points in 39 games, seven of which came on the power play. His offensive production has taken a backseat while paired with young d-man Mason Lohrei, and his analytical numbers look much stronger with other pairings.
Morgan Geekie was an under-the-radar signing that has quietly been a solid pick up for Boston.
Coming over from Seattle on a 2x$2m deal, Geekie has been much more than the “bottom six plug” role that was initially expected. With 22 points in 39 games, Geekie is already within reach of his career-high of 28 from last season. His versatility in the lineup has been an asset, skating at least 20 minutes with seven different line combinations. Geekie’s spent the most of his ice time centering Pastrnak and Zacha, to limited results. The most prolific aspect of his game is his shot blocking, as he’s second amongst Bruins forwards with 30.
Danton Heinen came in on a preseason PTO, and is now the Man of the Hour.
Heinen was a known commodity in Boston from his first go around, mostly known as a defensive winger. His metrics in that regard are very solid, he’s an effective penalty killer, and has played with 13 different lines. Saturday night’s hat trick helped him equal last season’s goal total (8) in half as many games. His current point pace over a full season would be the second highest of his career. Not bad for a $775k PTO signing.
In total, JVR, Shattenkirk, Geekie and Heinen have scored 81 points at a cumulative salary of 4,825,000. In other words, they’re averaging $59,568 a point between the four of them.
Whereas Orlov and Bertuzzi stand at $484,375 and $289,473 respectively. It was a very unpopular move to let them walk, but Don Sweeney made the right decision to do so.
Photo: Michael Dwyer / AP