On Wednesday, general manager Peter Chiarelli said that signing Dennis Seidenberg was “pretty high” on his agenda. And 24 hours later, the Bruins had inked the defenseman to a four-year, $16 million extension.
“I think he’s been one of our core guys since we got him,” Chiarelli said. “You hear me talk often about character guys. He’s definitely that, on and off the ice.
“He plays our style, heavy game. Heavy game that we like. He’s been a warrior for us.”
Seidenberg made it clear that he wanted to remain in Boston, a place where he is comfortable, and the Bruins wanted the same, making the negotiation relatively smooth. He got the no-trade protection he wanted, with a full no-trade for the first 2½ years, and partial protection thereafter.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to keep him,” Chiarelli said. “Dennis wanted to stay here. He probably gave up some money [by not going to free agency].”
As Seidenberg said, “I think it’s a deal that works out for both sides. I wanted to be here. They wanted me [here]. Both sides gave a little bit. I’m really happy to be here for another five years.”
Seidenberg was one of the few core Bruins unsigned for next season, and had talked this preseason about the difficulty of playing in a contract year.
Fortunately for Seidenberg and the Bruins, he won’t need to. The 32-year-old is in the final season of a four-year, $13 million deal that he signed after he was traded to Boston from Florida with Matt Bartkowski in one of Chiarelli’s best deals.
“I’m at a stage where I look at my family. I’ve got kids in school now,” Seidenberg said, acknowledging that the most important part was being on a team that is set up to win. “You want to kind of plan and know what’s going on the next few years, and that’s why I wanted to get it over with.”
The Bruins have a young defensive group that is pushing for minutes in the NHL, but that didn’t give Chiarelli pause in signing Seidenberg.
“D like Dennis are hard to find,” Chiarelli said. “I think he’s been so good for us. The way that he plays, it’s hard to find. We’ve got D depth in the pipeline that have bits and pieces of their game that are like that, but not the whole package that Dennis has.”
Chiarelli spoke earlier this summer about Carolina’s Tim Gleason as a comparable player for Seidenberg. Gleason is two years younger than the Bruins defenseman, but Seidenberg keeps himself in remarkable shape. Gleason is in the second year of a four-year deal that also pays him $16 million.
Chiarelli praised that conditioning as one of the factors that enabled the Bruins to feel comfortable signing Seidenberg to a deal that won’t expire until he is 37 years old.
Seidenberg is in his 11th NHL season, and has a plus-14 rating.
But with the Bruins, he is plus-45 with 18 goals and 63 assists in 224 games. He was third in the NHL last season among defensemen with a plus-18.
“I think Peter’s doing a great job of securing a lot of our core group,” coach Claude Julien said. “Seids has been a real solid player for us. He does all the things that a strong, hard-nosed defenseman has to do. He’s pretty durable and reliable. It’s nice to have those guys signed for longer terms. It gives us some stability. He certainly deserves it for what he’s done for us since he’s been here.”
Julien and Patrice Bergeron got the loudest ovations in the pregame introductions. Asked if he might need a raise now, Julien quipped, “Just don’t fire me this year.” . . . Jarome Iginla introduced himself to the Garden crowd in a big way as a Bruin, fighting Radko Gudas and earning an ovation. “It always feels a little bit rusty at the start,” Iginla said. “Just going off of emotion and nothing planned, getting run over is just part of it and it was a good atmosphere in here tonight, but not planned.” Added Julien, “I thought he did a good job of doing what he wanted to do for our team. He had a good opportunity late in the third that he could have capitalized on in the slot. Had scoring chances, he was physical; finished his checks and he obviously fought so he did what he had to do. Some of those [new] guys are showing that they want to be here and they’re willing to do the things and if we give them time they’ll only get better.”
Krejci back in there
David Krejci was recovered enough from his back spasms to play on Thursday night, centering the top line between Milan Lucic and Iginla and assisting on Lucic’s goal. Krejci had suffered the back spasms on Friday before the team played in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and had stayed off the ice until Wednesday. But he was out for the morning skate on Thursday, and proclaimed himself able to play. “I feel better than [Wednesday],” he said, “so I’m good to go. My movement was pretty good, so I was actually happy with the way it felt this morning.” . . . The Bruins did not call up an extra forward with Krejci ready to go against the Lightning. As for Carl Soderberg, who is on injured reserve and not eligible to play until Saturday, Julien said that the team feels that he is getting closer to being ready. “We feel that he’s getting close enough that right now there’s no need to bring anybody up. If need be, they’re usually close by.” Soderberg injured his ankle in that same game on Friday. The ankle got swollen, making it hard to tell how problematic it would be, but Soderberg said Wednesday that it had improved over the last couple of days. Jordan Caron, the extra forward, played well in Soderberg’s place against Tampa Bay.
On Wednesday at Bruins Media Day, Chiarelli said that the team’s defensive rotation might be akin to a platoon in baseball, with Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Bartkowski all seeing time. On Thursday, Julien went even further with words that had a bit of a warning in them to the Bruins’ veteran defensemen. “It’s not those three competing for two jobs,” Julien said. “I think there’s other guys who have to make sure they play well also to stay in the lineup, and you’ll probably see that. Sense of entitlement I don’t want on our hockey club, and I’ve been extremely clear with that. So if there’s times where we got some veterans back there that aren’t playing to their abilities and it’s lasting a little longer than we like, then it may be other people sitting out.” He added, “What we should be encouraged on is that we have really seven defensemen that I feel extremely comfortable with.” . . . Bartkowski was the healthy scratch Thursday . . . The Bruins kicked off the 90th season in their history with a game against a new division foe. This season marks the first time that Tampa Bay and Boston will be in the same division, thanks to realignment.