BOSTON - The Bruins made a handful of veteran signings during the opening day of free agency as general manager Don Sweeney inked forwards Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Geekie, and Patrick Brown, and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to contracts on Saturday afternoon.
"I don't think you ever feel comfortable with where you sit in July, I don't think you fully build your team out. You have a lot of if, ands, or buts, but with the congestion of the marketplace as it relates to the cap and where we were, I think we did a lot of the things that we set out to do in addressing the depth overall of our club," Sweeney said from Warrior Ice Arena.
"We have plenty of opportunity for younger kids to come in and take their place if they earn it, but we've also complemented the group with players we felt we needed to fill some holes and address some needs."
Sweeney said that the goal was to "remain a competitive group" next season despite the inevitable changeover that was expected to come this summer due to the club's constraints with the salary cap.
"I think I was pretty honest that we weren't going to be the same team," he said. "We had an incredible amount of depth and we felt that we put together a good team, but we fell woefully short in the playoffs with what our goals were. We know we're a competitive group and we want to remain a competitive group and with an eye towards the future. We didn't really encumber ourselves too badly from a standpoint of contracts."
Here's a closer look at Boston's free agency acquisitions:
Milan Lucic, Left Wing
Contract:One year, $1 million average annual value, plus $500,000 in performance bonuses
Last Team: Calgary Flames
Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
Weight: 240 pounds
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Birthday: June 7, 1988 (35 years old)
- Tallied 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 77 games for Calgary last season
- Played in all 82 games in 2021-22, notching 10 goals and 21 points
- Set a career high in points (62) and goals (30) in 2010-11 with Boston
- Drafted 50th overall (second round) by the Bruins in 2006
There isn't much that Bruins fans don't know about this guy.
The hulking left-winger spent his first eight seasons with the Black & Gold, helping the club to the playoffs in seven of those campaigns and to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011. He was traded to Los Angeles in June 2015 where he spent one season, before moving on to play three years in Edmonton and the last four in Calgary.
"I feel like I'm coming home," said Lucic "I'm coming back for the right reasons. I think I'm coming back to help this team continue to progress and chase a championship. I'm really confident in my abilities to help this team do that.
"I've thought about this moment for the last seven years. I've been thinking about what it would be like to put on the Spoked-B, Black and Gold again. That's why I'm so grateful for this opportunity."
Lucic was donning a fresh Bruins flat brim hat during his virtual media availability, a cap that Sweeney said the winger was eager to show off.
"There's been a little bit of social buzz out there about Looch," Sweeney said with a chuckle. "Some of it has certainly been driven from Looch…at 12:01 he sent me a picture of himself in a Bruins hat that he honestly went to the store and bought himself."
Lucic has compiled 233 goals and 584 points in 1,173 career contests and has played at least 80 games seven times, including three full 82-game campaigns.
"I just feel like bringing Looch back to Boston was the right thing to do for all the reasons," added Sweeney. "He feels like he has a lot of juice left and we feel he can provide a real jolt of both enthusiasm and bite to our lineup…he can probably create a little bit of space if somebody is breathing down [David Pastrnak's] neck, so it's a thing we've missed and in a perfect world he never would have left, but those decisions were made and now we bring him back home and we're happy about it."
Video: Lucic speaks with media about his return to Boston
James van Riemsdyk, Left Wing
Contract:One year, $1 million AAV
Last Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
Weight: 208 pounds
Hometown: Middletown, New Jersey
Birthday: May 4, 1989 (34 years old)
- Tallied 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 61 games for Philadelphia last season
- Played in all 82 games in 2021-22, notching 24 goals and 38 points
- Set a career high in points (62) in 2016-17 and goals (36) in 2017-18, both with Toronto
- Played two seasons at the University of New Hampshire from 2007-09
The New Jersey native is no stranger to Bruins fans, either, except that most of the familiarity is from the Black & Gold's playoff battles against him during his three-year stretch with the Philadelphia Flyers (2009-12) and seven-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2013-18). van Riemsdyk returned to Philadelphia for the 2018-19 campaign and spent the last five seasons with the Flyers.
The former second overall pick (2007) has 300 career goals and 591 points in 940 games with Philadelphia and Toronto. In 14 NHL seasons, he has seven times crossed the 20-goal plateau and twice hit the 30-goal mark.
"I was ultimately looking for two things: a team where I thought I'd have a chance to contend and win and a spot where I thought I could be a good fit with how I play and what they might need. The Bruins were a team that was high on my list because of those reasons and it's super exciting," said van Riemsdyk, who added that he received messages from Trent Frederic and Lucic welcoming him to the team on Saturday afternoon.
"I think pretty much since I've been in the league, they've been a contender right there every single year so obviously that's a standard and a culture that you want to be a part of."
van Riemsdyk pointed to his ability to get to the gritty scoring areas as making him a good fit for the Black & Gold.
"I think the style of game that I kind of bring some net front presence, some smarts, hockey sense, things like that," he said. "I think it definitely fits in well with how the team likes to play and how Monty [Jim Montgomery] tries to coach the team."
Sweeney echoed van Riemsdyk's sentiments about being a strong at the net front, especially on the power play.
"[Jim Montgomery] probably feels a little bit better about moving around [pieces on the power play] and JVR adds to that component," said Sweeney. "He's really tough to defend down in front of the net."
van Riemsdyk is also no stranger to hockey in New England, having spent his college career at the University of New Hampshire.
"It's interesting how it comes kind of full circle where obviously at UNH, the team is the Bruins there…you get kind of exposed to it a little more than you would be otherwise," he said. "You know how passionate and far-reaching that fan base is throughout New England, so that's for sure going to be fun to be a part of all that."
Video: James van Riemsdyk speaks with media on Saturday
Kevin Shattenkirk, Defenseman
Contract:One year, $1.05 million AAV
Last Team: Anaheim Ducks
Height: 6 feet
Hometown: New Rochelle, New York
Birthday: January 29, 1989 (34 years old)
- Played 75 games with the Ducks in 2022-23, earning four goals and 23 assists for 27 points
- Spent seven years with the St. Louis Blues (2010-17), before playing 19 games with the Washington Capitals in 2017, two seasons with the New York Rangers (2017-19), one season with the Tampa Bay Lightning (2019-20), and the last three with Anaheim (2020-23)
- Shattenkirk has played 891 NHL games, totaling 97 goals, 363 assists for 460 total points in his 13-year long career
- Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2015
Shattenkirk has had a long, successful career in the NHL, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2019, a run that included his overtime goal in Game 4 of the Cup Final against the Dallas Stars.
The New York native is no stranger to Boston, either, having played three seasons at Boston University from 2007-10, which included a NCAA National Championship in 2009 where he assisted on the OT goal in the title game vs. Miami.
"It was a special year last year and [van Riemsdyk] acknowledged that it looked like a lot of fun playing hockey in Boston and he wanted to be a part of that, and you saw that Kevin Shattenkirk was along the same lines. He wanted to join," said Sweeney. "He won a Stanley Cup with Tampa in a little bit of the same type of role that maybe he'd be stepping into here."
Video: Sweeney talks as Free Agency kicks off
Morgan Geekie, Center/Wing
Contract:Two years, $2 million AAV
Last Team: Seattle Kraken
Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Strathclair, Manitoba
Birthday: July 20, 1998 (24 years old)
- Played first two NHL seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, combining for six goals and seven assists for 13 points
- Spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Kraken, playing 73 games during the 2021-22 campaign with seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points
- Set career highs in goals (nine), assists (19), and points (28) in 69 games last season
- Helped the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) to a Calder Cup title with eight goals and 10 assists in 19 playoff games in 2019
Sweeney hopes that Geekie, a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, will elevate his game if given expanded opportunity in the Bruins' lineup. Geekie was a prolific scorer in the WHL, notching 35 goals and 90 points in 2016-17 and 30 goals and 84 points in 2017-18.
"Geekie played just over 10 minutes [a game last season] on a really good Seattle team," said Sweeney. "Could he get into an elevated position and produce more? Could he still have that high-end production 5-on-5? He's played bumper on the power play; he has a really good release as a right shot.
"Skating has always been the knock-on Morgan. But we feel that the size and the hockey sense and his puck skill abilities that he'll be able to integrate into our group well, whether that is in the middle or on the wing and complement our group. Boston's GM pointed to Geekie's versatility to play both center and wing as one of his biggest appeals.
"A bigger centerman, he's played wing as well," said Sweeney. "We talked a lot about [Trent Frederic] going to the middle of the ice, he's a left shot, so now you have lefty, righty that might be able to go into the third line and provide depth scoring for us. Freddy had 17 goals last year and was productive.
"[Johnny] Beecher is another player that will hopefully push, Marc McLaughlin has played both center and wing and [Georgii] Merkulov, who is also one who has had another good first year pro. So, they can pin their ears back and come in and take the job and move the pieces around as we see."
Patrick Brown, Center/Wing
Contract:Two years, $800 AAV
Last Team: Ottawa Senators
Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
Weight: 210 pounds
Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Birthday: May 29, 1992 (31 years old)
- Tallied 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) in 61 games - all career highs - for Philadelphia and Ottawa last season
- Was signed as an undrafted free agent by Carolina in 2014
- Father Doug Brown played 15 NHL seasons and won two Stanley Cups with Detroit in 1997 and 1998
The American is also familiar to Boston hockey fans after having spent four seasons with Boston College from 2010-14, helping the Eagles to the National Championship in 2012. Brown captained BC during his senior year and collected a career-high 30 points and 15 goals in 40 games that season.
Brown spent the first five seasons of his pro career with the Carolina organization, playing mostly with the Hurricanes' AHL club in Charlotte (334 games). He was the Checkers' captain from 2016-19 and notched AHL career highs in goals (19) and points (35) in 2018-19 when they won the Calder Cup.
The forward signed with Vegas ahead of the 2019-20 campaign and scored in his only regular-season game. Brown played two more games (with a goal) in the playoffs that season and another 12 postseason contests in 2021.
"Patrick Brown is a really good, detailed player," said Sweeney. "He kills a lot of penalties… is well over 50 percent on draws."
Wait, There's More
- Sweeney said that in "in all likelihood" the Bruins would lose unrestricted free agent Tyler Bertuzzi, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Detroit. "The term that he has rightfully probably earned, the AAV that he's seeking and what other teams are in position to provide that we probably weren't, unless I made another big move," Sweeney said of the factors that led to Bertuzzi departing. "And again, he's going to land in a really good spot for him and his family and we wish him luck. He was a great piece of our puzzle and dearly would like to have gone down the path to extend him"
- Sweeney added that "it's unlikely at this point" that the club would be able to re-sign centerman Tomas Nosek.
- The Bruins lost defensemen Dmitry Orlov (Carolina: two years, $7.75 million AAV), Connor Clifton (Buffalo: three years, $3.33m AAV), Jack Ahcan (Colorado: two years, $775k AAV) and forwards Chris Wagner (Colorado: one year), Garnet Hathaway (Philadelphia: two years, $2.375m AAV), Joona Koppanen (Pittsburgh: two years, $775k AAV), and Vinni Lettieri (Minnesota: two years, $775k AAV).
- Sweeney on Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci: "We still have to hear a final word both from David Krejci and Patrice, so we'll keep an eye and an ear out for that and cross our fingers that maybe that falls our way."
- Sweeney on a new contract for restricted free agent Jeremy Swayman: "He's been very consistent about where he wants to play hockey. I don't see why he wouldn't be playing hockey here now and moving forward for a long time. This is a really good young goaltender. We are excited about having him and Linus [Ullmark]."
- The Bruins also signed forwards Jayson Megna and Anthony Richard and defenseman Parker Wotherspoon to one-year, two-way contracts worth $775,000 at the NHL level.
- Providence forward Luke Toporowski was inked to a two-year, entry-level contract with annual NHL cap hit of $870,000. Toporowski, 24, appeared in 47 AHL games with the P-Bruins during the 2022-23 season, tallying 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points with a plus-8 rating.
Tyler Bertuzzi. The obvious big loss of the group, winger Tyler Bertuzzi left the Bruins for a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Maple Leafs.What is a restricted free agent NHL? ›
– Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) have rights that belong to an NHL team and that team has certain levels of protection. The only team that can sign an RFA with a standard player contract is the one that owns that player's rights. Other teams are eligible to sign RFAs, but only via offer sheets.What day is NHL free agency 2023? ›
NHL free agency will begin on Saturday, July 1, at noon ET. While teams must wait until that moment to start talking to players from other teams, they can get a head start on signing their own free agents. Pending unrestricted free agents can sign new deals with their current teams prior to July 1.Why did Orr leave the Bruins? ›
In 1976, Orr left Boston as a free agent to join the Black Hawks, but repeated injuries had effectively destroyed his left knee, and he retired in 1978 at age 30. Orr's first professional contract was one of the first in professional ice hockey to be negotiated by an agent.Why did Nathan Horton leave the Bruins? ›
But Horton acknowledged the Bruins' negotiating approach also played a part in his decision to leave. “All year, nothing happened,” Horton said of his final season in Boston. “I waited for a long time. It just came down to, at the end, for my family, I wanted a place where my kids could be outside.What happens if a free agent doesn't get signed NHL? ›
If the qualifying offer is not made, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. If the player rejects a qualifying offer, he remains a restricted free agent. If the player does not sign before December 1, he is ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.Can NHL teams talk to players before free agency? ›
When does NHL free agency start? NHL free agency will begin on Saturday, July 1, at noon ET. While teams must wait until that moment to start talking to players from other teams, they can get a head start on signing their own free agents.What happens if a team matches a restricted free agent? ›
If the original team matches the offer sheet, then the player stays with the original team under the terms of the offer sheet. The team making the offer must maintain enough salary cap space to acquire the player until the offer sheet is signed or the original team matches.Where did Brady Tkachuk go? ›
They saw Chicago's lumbering center as a player who might complement Orr and wanted him. The Bruins sent goalie Jack Norris, defenseman Gilles Marotte and forward Pit Martin to Chicago for Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. The deal proved to be a disaster for Chicago.
|Player||Bruins Years||Bruins Assists|
|Bernie Parent||1965-67||3.67 GAA|
|Jacques Plante||1972-73||2.00 GAA|
|Terry Sawchuck||1955-57||2.53 GAA|
|2021–22||NESN||Barry Pederson, Billy Jaffe, Andrew Raycroft, and Andrew Alberts|
|2020–21||NESN||Barry Pederson, Billy Jaffe, Andrew Raycroft, and Andrew Alberts|