Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t speak to the cap ramifications and perks of waiving John Moore and Chris Wagner. He decided to leave that minutiae to general manager Don Sweeney (and honestly, Sweeney would probably leave it to the team’s resident capologist, assistant general manager Evan Gold, if he had it his way).
Instead, Cassidy offered a simple explanation as to why the Bruins exposed two veterans to the rest of the NHL before they cleared waivers at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“The easiest answer is usually that we have other players ahead of them,” Cassidy said of the team’s waiver-wire moves. “Some would require waivers, so you have to make tough decisions on who you’re going to expose [to waivers] and I think that’s what it came down to, and it happened to be Wagner and Moore.”
In this camp, the players ahead of Wagner included Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, and Jack Studnicka.
The 22-year-old Studnicka still has minor-league options, so the Bruins weren’t worried about potentially exposing him. But this was the first year that Blidh and Kuhlman would’ve been exposed to the waiver wire, and the Bruins decided to risk losing Wagner opposed to their younger, cheaper depth.
At the very worst, waiving Wagner and his $1.35 million per for another two years before potentially exposing Blidh and Kuhlman bought the Bruins some extra time, where perhaps sneaking one of them by the wire becomes a bit easier when teams finalize their rosters at 5 p.m. on Monday.
Moore, meanwhile, gave it his best push, but ended up behind Connor Clifton as the team’s fourth-best option on the right side of the defense. (The 30-year-old Moore, of course, was a left shot playing his off side throughout camp, and trying to make a strong impression after appearing in only a handful of games in 2021 before undergoing season-ending hip surgery.)
“I think Johnny has bounced back from his surgery well,” Cassidy acknowledged. “He’s been more consistent, showing that he’s got good life, good legs. Last year was almost like a non-year for him with the limited amount of games and then the injury.”
But at $2.75 million, that was one expensive eighth defenseman.
Still, Cassidy acknowledged the possibility for Moore to return given the B’s lack of depth on the right side.
In other words, it doesn’t feel the Bruins are not looking at the Wagner and Moore situations in a similar light to the waiving David Backes before the 2020 trade deadline. That was pretty much “go home until we can find a trade partner.” And it’s hard to think of the last time the Bruins outright buried an established player to Providence and never looked back. Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot may be the closest examples of that. Even Matt Beleskey played just over 20 games before the Bruins included him in a deadline deal.
These new situations, at least based on what Cassidy said Sunday, do not sound like either of those experiences.
“This decision is never fun [but] there’s certainly no finality to it unless they get claimed,” Cassidy said. “After that, they can still find their way into the lineup. There’s a lot of different ways you can go between Monday and Opening Night on Saturday, but that’s where we’re at right now.”
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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.