It took about three months longer than expected, but the Boston Bruins finally got their man.
As NHL free agency opened on July 5, Boston announced that it had, in fact, signed Jarome Iginla to a one-year, incentive-laden contract worth as much as $6 million. After a near-miss at the trade deadline when Calgary's captain eventually elected to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the move marks a bit of a course-correction for Iginla after the Pens fell to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final.
The signing of Iginla capped off a busy couple of days. Boston made a surprising number of moves after essentially staying the course upon winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. From back to front, here's a look at the new team dynamic from free-agent day.
Goal: Anton Khudobin signs with CAR; BOS signs free agent Chad Johnson
Anton Khudobin got $800,000 from the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year deal; Boston signed Chad Johnson for $600,000.
The deal's not expected to dramatically impact the team. Khudobin started 14 games for Boston in 2012-13. His record was 9-4-1, with a GAA of 2.32 and .920. Twenty-seven-year-old Johnson has just 11 games of NHL experience, but posted a 1.21 GAA and .954 save percentage with the Phoenix Coyotes last year. If those numbers truly reflect his skill set, the Bruins may have quietly made a dramatic upgrade.
Defense: Andrew Ference signs with EDM; BOS trades prospect Ryan Button to DAL; BOS acquires prospect Joe Morrow
Peter Chiarelli made it clear at season's end that Andrew Ference's time was up with the Bruins. With youngsters Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski all ready for NHL jobs, this decision was mostly about making space for the prospects.
Krug earned a permanent spot on the Boston blue line after appearing as an emergency callup in Round 2 of the playoffs, essentially sealing Ference's fate this summer.
Ference was a dependable member of the 2011 squad that won the Stanley Cup and landed on his feet with a four-year deal in Edmonton. He could be missed in the short run, but his departure is a positive for the Bruins' long-term plans.
Forward: Nathan Horton signs with CBJ; BOS signs Jarome Iginla; BOS trades Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to DAL; BOS does not re-sign Jaromir Jagr; BOS acquires Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith from DAL
This might just work out for the Bruins.
Yes, they've gotten older. Straight up, Iginla is eight years older than Nathan Horton and Loui Eriksson is seven years older than Seguin. But...
Peter Chiarelli made no secret of his frustration with Seguin when the playoffs ended. Relegated primarily to third-line duties, Seguin's maturity and commitment to the game were called into question.
Horton's commitment was never in doubt, but his durability sure is. At just 28, he has already had serious concussion issues and is due to miss several months next season after shoulder surgery this summer.
Rather than investing in a long-term deal with the fragile Horton, Chiarelli was able to structure a short-term contract with Iginla that mitigates his risk. In return, he gets a proven performer. Iginla may have lost a step with age, but he still exhibits a ferocious attitude, and his body has stood up well under the rigors of his physical style over the years.
As for Eriksson, he's a gem. In the last five years on a bad Dallas team, he's finished in the top two in scoring every year, providing offensive creativity and excitement on the ice. Whether he's paired with David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron, Eriksson will dazzle. He's signed for three more years at a reasonable $4.6 million per season.
The one hole Chiarelli hasn't plugged yet is Peverley's third-line center spot. He's been a good soldier for Boston, but there will be similar players available to slot into his role as the summer wears on.
On balance, Bruins fans should be pleased. The team has made bold moves to shore up the areas that let them down as the playoffs wore on. With a solid core who reached the final, Boston's already in very good shape heading into 2013-14.
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