The day of activity continues with the Boston Bruins signing Pavel Zacha to a one-year deal for $3.5 million while avoiding an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 11 between the team and Zacha’s representation, per a scoop first reported by our friends at PuckPedia before it was confirmed by the Bruins.
Expecting the #NHLBruins to sign 25 y/o RFA F Pavel Zacha to 1 year $3.5M deal. He’ll be a UFA on expiry.
He had very similar scoring to Puljujarvi (1 * $3.0M) in 21-22 & settles his arbitration for $500K more.
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) August 8, 2022
It’s a bit surprising that the Bruins and Zacha couldn’t reach agreement on a long-term deal given the B’s interesting in making the former first round pick a part of Boston’s bigger picture. The 25-year-old Zacha will be an unrestricted free agent following this season after posting 15 goals and 36 points in 70 games for the Devils last season and won’t be a top-6 center for the B’s this upcoming season with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci now signed to one-year deals.
But it remains to be seen how things will shake out for Zacha amongst the forward group with Brad Marchand out for the first two months next season, and a potentially productive winger role with fellow Czech countrymen Krejci and David Pastrnak waiting for him right out of the gate. The contract pretty clearly is the big-bodied center clearly betting on himself to have a big season with the Boston Bruins after never truly blossoming with a New Jersey Devils group that’s been in rebuild mode for the last few seasons.
The Krejci, Bergeron and Zacha contracts leave the Boston Bruins close to a couple of million dollars over the NHL salary cap ceiling, but the B’s should be able to utilize LTIR to start the season with Marchand (hips), Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) and Matt Grzelcyk (shoulder) all not expected to start the 2022-23 NHL season while rehabbing summer surgeries. The contracts will likely push the Boston Bruins into making some kind of salary cap-saving move during the NHL season, and the performance bonuses for Bergeron and Krejci are absolutely going to create millions in salary cap penalties for the 2023-24 NHL season.
But that is a problem for two seasons from now with the Bruins settling all outstanding business while making official the contracts for Bergeron, Krejci and Zacha as the front office likely scatters for a few weeks of vacation time before NHL training camp gets going next month. The Bruins initially acquired Zacha back at the July 13 opening of NHL free agency in a one-for-one trade where they sent versatile forward Erik Haula to the Devils.