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Former Bruins Find New Homes In NHL Free Agency

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AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The start of NHL free agency on Monday saw the Boston Bruins make a total of eight signings.

With the additions of Elias Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov and others, the Bruins spent a whopping total north of  $92 million, the most ever under general manager Don Sweeneyever. However, none of the eight contracts the Bruins handed out went to any of their in-house free agents.

Instead, many of the players who hit the open market after spending last season in Boston found new homes across the league.

DeBrusk, Heinen and Forbort Land In Vancouver:

Jake DeBrusk was the most high-profile former Bruin on the open market and is now heading the Vancouver Canucks, taking Danton Heinen and Derek Forbort with him.

DeBrusk joins Vancouver on a seven-year deal worth a grand total of $38.5 million. Meanwhile, Heinen signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract, and Forbort agreed to one-year, $1.5 million one of his own.

A reunion never seemed likely with DeBrusk and the Bruins. The former 2015 first-round draft pick had a number of suitors this offseason, and early reports indicated he was likely to find work elsewhere.

The writing was splattered across the wall prior to the NHL Draft last week in Las Vegas after Sweeney was asked about the status of negotiations between the Bruins and DeBrusk.

The same could be said for Forbort, who, after spending much of the 2023-24 season dealing with an injury, was ready for a fresh start elsewhere.

Heinen’s departure was actually a bit of a surprise. Out of any of Boston’s in-house free agents, the forward seemed to be the most likely to return, as reports in early June stated he and the Bruins had already begun negotiations.

Grzelyck Goes To Pittsburgh:

Boston was all that Matt Grzyelcyk had known. And yet, after growing up just over the river in Charlestown, attending school at Boston University and spending the entirety of his eight-year NHL career with the Bruins, Grzyelcyk is joining the Pittsburgh Penguins on a modest one-year agreement worth $2.75 million.

Despite Pittsburgh already having the likes of Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson on its roster, adding Grzyleck as another adept puck mover on the blue line is likely in some way related to the Penguins’ power-play struggles last season. Even more so is the connection that Grzyleck has with his former head coach at BU, David Quinn, who is now behind the bench in Pittsburgh as an assistant coach.

Grzyelcyk debuted in Boston and developed into a hometown favorite early on in his career. But as time progressed, injuries and his small stature caught up to him. By the end, the Bruins were forced to make a healthy scratch more often than not and were willing to let him walk as he hit NHL free agency.

Maroon Helping Rebuilding Blackhawks:

Seeing Pat Maroon in a black and gold sweater felt unnatural after his many playoff battles with the Bruins over the years. But in his short time with Boston, Maroon fit in seamlessly with the Bruins’ culture and even expressed an interest in returning to the team this summer.

Nevertheless, rather than helping the Bruins contend for the playoffs, Maroon will instead help the Chicago Blackhawks move forward with their rebuild after signing with them for one year and $1.3 million.

Along with Maroon, former Bruins forward Tyler Bertuzzi is also joining the Blackhawks after signing on a four-year, $22 million contract. Having spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the scrappy yet skilled forward is expected to be a new running mate for Connor Bedard on Chicago’s top line.

In total, the Blackhawks’ roster now features six former Bruins in Maroon, Bertuzzi, Ryan Donato, Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.

Still To Be Signed:

Although most of the NHL’s free agency frenzy has already concluded, a few former Bruins remain unsigned, as James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Shattenkirk are still in search of new teams. Both were serviceable during their one year with the Bruins but were merely bargain rentals that the team added using the little cap space it had last summer.

With both in their mid-30s, that run with the Bruins was perhaps their last in the NHL. One year later, they’re back looking through the help-wanted ads once again.

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