Yesterday the Bruins announced the signing of a three-year contract extension with defenseman Andrew Ference that will last through the 2013-14 season. The deal is reportedly worth somewhere in the $2.25-million per season price range prompting many to already start calling for GM Peter Chiarelli's head for overpaying for a undeserving player yet again. Ference is currently earning $1.4-million this season and would have become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
There is no denying that Ference brings a whole lot more to the table then many give him credit for doing so. Yeah... he is no offensive juggernaut but does have a solid defensive IQ. NEWS FLASH! Last time I checked the main job of a defenseman is to play defense. Sorry to disappointment many but not every d-man puts up 10 or even 20 goals a season. Also not hurting Ference's case to stay in Boston is the fact that he has played a decent sized role in one of the leagues top defensive cores for over the last two seasons. Add in the incredible depth he adds to the roster and the ability to pair young rookies with him due to his veteran leadership and understanding of the system... and boom you get a solid blueliner. But the question remains, are these qualities worth an almost million dollar raise for the next three seasons?
When compared to the rest of the league I am not as shocked by the amount of money being tossed in Ference's direction. Currently an "elite" bottom pair defensemen, such as Ference, is hitting the cap at between $2-million to $2.5-million per year. Ridiculous... I know but that is just something we have to live with as the culture in the league changes. But just because that is the new "culture" doesn't make it right, especially when considering the Bruins cap issues next season. The Bruins now have four denfensemen locked up for the 2010-2011 season in Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick and Ference. This leaves current Bruins Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Stuart and Johnny Boychuk all unsigned. Add in the fact that Chiarelli will more than likely continue his search for an elite blueliner, such as Tomas Kaberle, to pair with Chara in the offseason and the red flags should have already been flying.
Ference also hasn't played more than 60 games a season over his three year stint since coming to the team in the 2006-07 season due to lingering injuries. Once again missing significant time this year due to what is becoming a chronic groin injury, which will require offseason surgery for the second straight year. Ference is basically the equivalent to Samuel L. Jackson's character in Unbreakable (Mr. Glass). So how can Chiarelli justify giving a guy that isn't getting any younger and is already labeled as injury prone a three year deal and then a raise? Like it or not the deal is done... but wow do I think Chiarelli dropped the ball on this one. But as always I will give the deal a chance unfold before really ripping it apart. But until then...
Who would you like to see go on the blieline? Who would you like to see come in? What are your projected defensive pairings next season?