Boston Bruins

Sep 24, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

  • 31 National Hockey League teams passed on helping Don Sweeney and the Bruins out of their salary cap pickle Monday, as forwards Nick Foligno and Chris Wagner, as well as defenseman Mike Reilly, all cleared waivers without a claim.

    With all three clearing waivers, the Bruins are free to assign them down to the AHL’s P-Bruins, or almost immediately recall them back to the Bruins once Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand are placed on the long-term injured reserve. And in case you’re curious, the latter seems to be the case for all three players, as all three skated in Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena and were slated to join the team for their flight down to Washington ahead of Wednesday’s season-opening contest.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 15: Mike Reilly #6 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period against the New York Islanders at TD Garden on April 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Islanders 4-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 15: Mike Reilly #6 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period against the New York Islanders at TD Garden on April 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • The only real surprise with all three of the Bruins’ waived talents came with the 29-year-old Reilly remaining with the organization beyond the 2 p.m. window.

    Entering the second year of a three-year, $9 million contract signed back in 2021, Reilly put up respectable numbers in the preseason, with one goal and three points in four games played. The goal was a beauty, too, as Reilly faked a shot, and created an even better look for himself on the Rangers’ Jaroslav Halak.

  • The left-shooting defender is also noticeably healthier and skating better after undergoing ankle surgery for an ailment that had been bothering him for well over a year, according to Reilly.

    But the lack of interest on Reilly, who put up four goals and 17 points last year and is considered an analytics darling, really speaks to how hard it’s become to move money (even modest money) in the NHL.

    According to CapFriendly, just four teams (the Sabres, Coyotes, Ducks, and Blackhawks) had the projected cap space available to claim Reilly and his $3 million yearly salary through 2023-24 without making a separate move of their own. You could see the value in any one of those teams claiming Reilly — even if it was just to feed him top-four minutes, bolster his value, and flip him for futures at the deadline — but the ‘money in’ aspect certainly seems to be real across the league.

    Based on Monday’s practice, which saw Reilly skate to the left of Connor Clifton, it’s fair to expect Reilly to remain with the Big B’s to begin the season. Should they decide that they’d prefer to dump Reilly in Providence, the Bruins would gain $1.125 million in cap space, and have a $1.875 million dead cap hit with Reilly “buried.”

  • Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

  • In the case of Foligno, no team wanted to touch the 34-year-old and his $3.8 million cap hit for 2022-23.

    Speaking after Monday’s practice and at about 12 p.m., the veteran Foligno admitted that the next two hours were going to be stressful, but called back to his time having similar conversations with players who were in the situation he found himself in leading up to the closing of the 24-hour ‘claim’ window.

    “The unknown is hard, right? I’ve been fortunate my entire career to not really have that, so it’s a different feeling,” Foligno, whose preseason ended with a helper, said. “I’ve been on the other side of it where I’m the captain and talking to guys who have been put on waivers and trying to coach them. Now that the shoe’s on my foot, I gotta make sure I walk the walk as much as talk the talk and just do my job.”

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 26: Nick Foligno #17 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on April 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 26: Nick Foligno #17 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on April 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Similar to Reilly, Foligno’s practice role as Boston’s fourth-line left wing would indicate that he’ll be back with the Bruins once they make their paper moves to be cap compliant (which will not be an issue for the team, according to Sweeney), and Foligno seemed to indicate that that is indeed the case.

    “It’s never a good feeling [to be put on waivers], but I understand there’s a business side to it and I had a good talk with [Sweeney],” Foligno said Monday. “We had a conversation with what they were thinking, and I think [Sweeney] knows where my head’s at and where their head is at. My job is just to do whatever I can to be here with the Boston Bruins.

    “So that’s the kind of the way I am. I’ve been in this league long enough to understand the business side. I’m gonna be who I am and prepare the same way as always.”

    Foligno is looking to rebound from a 2021-22 season that featured just two goals in 64 games played.

    If Foligno is ‘buried’ in Providence, the Bruins would gain just $1.125 million of cap relief, and get hit with $2.675 million in dead cap on their books.

  • Oct 4, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Chris Wagner (14) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 4, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Chris Wagner (14) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

  • And in the case of Wagner, that’s two times in a year that he’s been waived down to Providence without a claim.

    But the expectation is that this time will be different and that Wagner will return to the main roster as soon as the cap space is maximized, as Jim Montgomery has really enjoyed Wagner’s toolbox as a physical option. The first-year B’s coach was spotted having a long chat with Wagner during the team’s Monday practice session and with Wagner still unsure if he was going to be claimed by a team.

    “I like to communicate to everybody what we think is going to transpire,” Montgomery said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. I was just more talking to [Wagner] mentally about with him being on waivers and the 2 p.m. [deadline] that I appreciated him being a pro and that I didn’t have any answers for him.”

    Wagner finished the preseason as Boston’s best thumper, with a team-leading 21 hits.

    In the final year of a contract that comes with a $1.35 million cap hit, burying Wagner in Providence for the season year in a row would provide a $1.125 million cap relief, and a dead cap hit charge of $225,000.