On Sunday, the opening of free agency, the Bruins took care of some housekeeping. They registered the contracts of Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, and prospect Alexander Khokhlachev on the first day they were eligible to do so.
Otherwise, as promised, the Bruins were quiet on one of the league’s busiest days.
“I don’t anticipate anything happening today based on what’s happened up until this point,” said general manager Peter Chiarelli during an afternoon conference call. “I said prior that I’m not actively looking for anything. If there’s something that can improve our team, we’ll consider anything. With the secondary market, we’ll take the same approach. I’m not actively looking, whether it’s with the secondary market in free agency or with respect to trades. We’ll continue to look at that stuff, but I’m not actively looking.”
On previous market openings, the Bruins had specific targets in mind. Chiarelli referenced the July 1, 2008, signing of Michael Ryder, when they identified the right wing and pursued him aggressively for his services. No such player was available Sunday.
“We didn’t have a player like that this year to get right off the hop,” Chiarelli said. “That speaks to how we feel about our team and who we want to test the waters with.”
Chiarelli kicked the tires on several forwards Sunday. But those inquiries did not gain much traction. With less than $3 million available in cap space, the Bruins were looking at depth forwards who could skate on the third line. Forwards who fit that profile were Brandon Prust, Arron Asham, and Tanner Glass, who respectively signed with the Canadiens, Rangers, and Penguins.
Chiarelli’s cautious approach was in line with his philosophy for not making home-run deals on July 1. The exception was July 1, 2006. That year, as the Bruins kicked off their rebuild, owner Jeremy Jacobs committed $57.5 million in total salary to Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. They were essential transactions to signal the organization’s reboot.
“It shows the owner’s commitment to bringing in good players and having the resources available to secure those good players,” Chiarelli said. “Every once in a while, free agents like that come around. We were fortunate to go after those two guys. I anticipated, based on need, that if those circumstances were to come around again, we’d have those resources available. It’s a good sign, a good feeling to as manager to call Mr. Jacobs or Charlie [Jacobs] to talk frankly about these guys and what they’d cost — to know that we if wanted to, we could be in the game for a lot of these guys.”
The Bruins will continue to monitor the market for inexpensive players. Chiarelli also anticipates sniffing around when the secondary trade market develops after the first wave of UFA signings is complete.
The position the Bruins would be most interested in amplifying is the No. 3 left wing. They traded former third-line left wing Benoit Pouliot to Tampa Bay June 23. On Sunday, Pouliot signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Lightning.
The Bruins plan on giving Jordan Caron a crack at filling the spot alongside Kelly and Rich Peverley. The 21-year-old Caron will be starting the third and final season of his entry-level contract. Chris Bourque, acquired from Washington for Zach Hamill, also could be in the mix.
“I don’t want to hand any job to him,” Chiarelli said of Caron. “But we’re trying to integrate him into the lineup. He certainly showed promise to the end.”
On defense, Chiarelli said he might acquire a veteran on a two-way contract. That player most likely would serve as third-pairing depth. It’s possible that if Mike Mottau doesn’t land elsewhere, the Bruins could bring back the Avon native in such a role. Dougie Hamilton is expected to crack the varsity roster this fall. Youngsters Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, and David Warsofsky also could challenge for big-league paychecks.
The Bruins officially said goodbye to Greg Zanon and Joe Corvo, who reached UFA status at noon. Zanon signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with Colorado. Zanon will be reunited with Colorado assistant coach David Quinn. As Nebraska-Omaha’s former assistant and lead recruiter, Quinn recruited Zanon to play for the Mavericks.
Corvo signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Carolina. This will be Corvo’s third tour with the Hurricanes, who swapped the defenseman to the Bruins last July for a 2012 fourth-round pick.