Andrew Ference is officially an ex-Bruin.
The former alternate captain was one of the first unrestricted free agents to find employment on Friday. Ference signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract with Edmonton, his hometown club. The 34-year-old Ference will be 38 upon the conclusion of his deal.
Ference scored four goals and had nine assists in 48 regular-season games while averaging 19:29 of ice time. In the playoffs, Ference was paired with Johnny Boychuk on the No. 2 duo.
Ference suffered a broken left foot in Game 5 of the opening round against Toronto. But after missing the last two opening-round games and all of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Rangers, Ference returned against Pittsburgh.
Ference should be a second-pairing defenseman for the Oilers. He will be just as important in the dressing room. Ference will be a go-to presence for Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, and Justin Schultz, Edmonton’s bright young stars.
Ference will be asked to replicate his experience in Boston. Upon his arrival from the Flames, Ference’s task was to transfer the energy and professionalism from the 2004 Calgary club that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final into the Bruins’ room.
“There was only a few of us that had been to the dance and knew what it was really about,” Ference told Edmonton’s CHED 630 radio. “That success and that experience were earned. This situation isn’t entirely different if I go back to when we first started to turn this thing around in Boston.”
This will be Ference’s second landing in his home province of Alberta. From 2002-07, Ference played for Calgary.
The Bruins could not afford to re-sign Ference. They project Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, both left-shot, mobile defensemen, to replace Ference.
The Bruins hadn’t ruled out re-signing Anton Khudobin. But the No. 2 goalie signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with Carolina on Friday.
Khudobin will serve as Cam Ward’s backup. The Hurricanes hit the skids this past season after Ward suffered a knee injury.
Khudobin went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
To address Khudobin’s departure, the Bruins signed Chad Johnson to a one-year, $600,000 contract. Johnson went 2-0-2 with a 1.221 GAA and a .954 save percentage for Phoenix in 2013. The 27-year-old Johnson could be Rask’s No. 2 in 2013-14 if the Bruins want Niklas Svedberg to play another season in Providence.
Bruiser Robins re-ups
The Bruins signed Bobby Robins to a two-year, two-way contract on Friday. Robins will earn $600,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL. The Providence tough guy had previously been on an AHL contract.
The former UMass-Lowell forward has established himself as one of the AHL’s most eager fighters. The right wing racked up 316 penalty minutes in 74 games for Providence in 2012-13. Robins also had four goals and seven assists. During the lockout, Robins played on one of Providence’s most effective lines alongside Lane MacDermid and Christian Hanson.
Robins opened eyes during a Boston-Providence scrimmage prior to the start of the NHL season. Robins dropped the gloves with Adam McQuaid.
Robins could replace Shawn Thornton as the Bruins’ enforcer. Thornton will be unrestricted after 2013-14.
Johnson, Moore add depth
The Bruins signed forward Nick Johnson and defenseman Mike Moore to one-year, two-way contracts Friday. The 27-year-old Johnson had four goals and two assists in 17 games for Phoenix in 2013. Johnson will earn $600,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL. This past season, Moore played in 50 games for Milwaukee, Nashville’s AHL affiliate. The 28-year-old Moore totaled five goals and six assists. Moore will make $550,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL.