Any way you count with any kind of scenario involving McAvoy and Carlo, the Bruins definitely won’t fit them under that $8 million threshold. It might take just a million, but the Bruins still need to act. How, though?
They can send David Backes to the AHL, that would save $1 million, but it’d probably not be enough for the Bruins. The most reasonable trade-bait player is Kevan Miller. Miller is a 31-year-old veteran defenseman with one year left on his contract. If the Bruins aren’t re-signing him next summer, which seems improbable and unnecessary, there is no reason to keep him.
Miller would free up $2.5 million in the salary cap space. That looks like perfectly enough for the Bruins salary cap issues. But there is one other issue. The Bruins probably won’t lure a big amount of suitors and trade partners paying the price because Miller is on the shelf with the knee issues.
He may miss just a few games at the beginning of the season, but that’s just risky business for any club acquiring him. The Bruins can find a way, though. John Moore should be on the injury list with his shoulder surgery, maybe until December. The Bruins can start the season with both Moore and Miller on the long-term injured reserve.
That would allow them to exceed the salary cap by approximately $5 million, but just for a short period. It would be good enough to have both McAvoy and Carlo re-signed at the beginning of the regular campaign, but after November, it’s not as clear.
However, even if Miller comes back, Moore should remain on the LTIR, as his injury is believed to be a longer concern than Miller’s. And it should still keep the Bruins salary cap tenable.
For trade partners hesitating about acquiring Kevan Miller because of his injury, like the Calgary Flames who suffered a big blow with the injury to Juuso Valimaki, it might be ideal to just wait and see. The Bruins could showcase Miller for a few games following his return and after he is deemed fully healthy again, the teams interested can pull the trigger fearlessly. That all can happen well before John Moore is back from his LTIR adventure.
Trading Kevan Miller, even for a lower draft selection, might become very tricky, almost impossible, given his uncertain health status at the time of the trade. Nevertheless, Miller is an honest player and a guy, who has already come back from tougher setbacks and injuries. This way of trading Miller and finding a reasonable salary cap solution appears to be a near-perfect one.
The Bruins would have to then just hope that there are no setbacks as they would have to act quickly. If it worked, the Bruins would find themselves saved in terms of the salary cap conundrum, with Carlo and McAvoy signed, and with Kevan Miller successfully shipped away for at least some kind of a return. If Miller wasn’t injured, he would probably repeat Adam McQuaid’s route to the Rangers last September. His injury might scare the suitors, but only momentarily because his presence would be valuable for defense-starved clubs.