BostonBruins.com - The NHL's 'Free Agent Frenzy' - as its often labeled - began at noon today, and in the past seven hours (as it's just about to hit 7:00 p.m. ET here in Boston), we've seen at least 30 unrestricted free agents join teams and be taken off the market.
Of those 30 UFA's, four Bruins from the 2012-13 roster have moved on to other teams. And all had different scenarios heading into free agency. Here's a look at their new destinations...
10:25 a.m. - Ference to Edmonton
Andrew Ference has gone back home, as he joined the Edmonton Oilers today. The defenseman had been enriched in the Bruins and Boston for seven seasons, and it has been well-documented on this site how much he meant to the spoked-B, and how difficult it was for General Manager Peter Chiarelli and the B's to depart with the steady blueliner to clear up space with the new constraints of the lower salary cap.
"With the current cap, Peter isn’t going to be able to keep me," Ference had said on the team's break-up day. "He’s got to re-sign Tuukka, and obviously do his side of the business. Also, unfortunately with the new CBA, he’s restricted. Wish it wasn’t so, but that’s the way it is."
"I’ve been around the sport long enough to know that six straight years of playoffs and to do it with a bunch of guys that get along with a coach that we’ve been able to work with for as long as we have – it’s been an absolute blessing."
Though it was tough for both sides to part, Ference will now have a homecoming in Edmonton, signing a four-year deal. When the Oilers come to town next season, I'm sure he will be welcome in Boston…
12:49 p.m. - Horton to Columbus
This past weekend at the NHL Draft, GM Peter Chiarelli heard from (at the time) impending unrestricted free agent Nathan Horton that he would be opting to test free agency.
The Bruins had wanted to re-sign the right wing.
"I was surprised," the Bruins' GM had said. "And I respect someone's decision to go to free agency. I think it was a real tough decision for him and his family."
"The message I got was that he was going to test free agency and wants kind of a new beginning."
That new beginning came today in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets, where Horton has a seven-year deal worth $37.1 million that carries an cap hit of $5.3 million.
"Obviously, I like Boston. I had a great three years there. I can't thank Boston enough - my teammates were unbelievable, I'm going to miss them," Horton told the Blue Jackets' website.
"This is a place where I'm a family guy and I have my wife and two kids - it's definitely a place for them to grow up in, and that's what I was looking for, and this is the spot - couldn't be any better."
"As soon as I saw it, it feels like home to me already."
3:30 p.m. - Khudobin to Carolina
No. 2 goaltender Anton Khudobin also became an unrestricted free agent at noon, and is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, with a one-year deal worth $800,000.
“Anton proved to be a very capable NHL backup for the Bruins last year,” said Carolina general manager, Jim Rutherford. “This solidifies an elite goaltending tandem for the Hurricanes.”
Johnson to New York
Defenseman Aaron Johnson was a depth signing for the Bruins last summer, signing a one-year deal. He only played 10 NHL games with Boston, stepping in when the B's faced injuries on the back end.
With Wade Redden, and young D-men Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, Johnson was a healthy scratch most of the season and did not dress in a playoff game. But he maintained a positive attitude and kept working hard every day (much like Jay Pandolfo) despite not seeing game action.
An unrestricted free agent today, Johnson joined the New York Rangers with a one-year deal worth $600,000.
Former Bruin to New Jersey
Ex-Bruin Michael Ryder became an unrestricted free agent today, after splitting the 2012-13 season with Dallas and Montreal (after being traded on February 26). The 33-year-old right wing joined the New Jersey Devils on a two-year deal, worth an average of $3.5 million per year.
GM Peter Chiarelli had noted coming into free agency that the team would look at all options and alternatives to fill out the holes on their right side. That included an assessment of all possibilities on the free agent market, though prices are often inflated, along with trades and flexibility heading into next season - whether by seeing younger players challenge for spots or picking up a player via waivers.
Overall, there are always options, and Chiarelli and his staff work to make moves, as he said yesterday, "that are predicated on being a successful franchise going forward and making the prudent moves in a timely manner so that you can capitalize the market as it stands."
"It's a first, probably the first time in five years that there’s going to be some changes," Patrice Bergeron had said during his final media availability before the offseason. "But it's the business we’re in. It’s the salary cap world, especially this year. It's a lot different, especially with the salary cap going down. You don't want it, but it was something that had to happen."
"It’s unfortunate because you want to keep all these guys," he added.
"But at the same time, you have to definitely trust Peter. He’s done a great job over the years, and I’m sure he’s going to do the same thing again."
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