The Bruins’ right-side defensive depth will take a hit after Steven Kampfer left for the KHL.
The 32-year-old signed a one-year deal with Ak Bars Kazan, the team announced.
In translated comments on the team’s website, general manager Marat Valiullin described Kampfer as an experienced two-way defenseman who skates well, and said he will be counted on for leadership.
Kampfer, who slotted in as an eighth defenseman, appeared in 65 games with Boston over the last three seasons, scoring five goals and totaling 13 points. He saw 20 games of action this past season (2-3—5), missing the playoffs because of an early-March hand injury that required surgery in late May. He is on track for a September return.
Kampfer, an unrestricted free agent, was rumored to be leaving for the KHL in late May. He said on June 11, during the Bruins’ breakup day Zoom calls, that he had “received contracts from different leagues,” but it was “news to me” that he had signed anywhere.
“I’ve loved my time in Boston,” Kampfer said. “If this is the end of it, I love the guys in the room, the staff, and we’ll go from there.”
Thus ends Kampfer’s second tour with the Bruins, who traded Adam McQuaid to the Rangers in September 2018 for Kampfer and two picks in the 2019 draft. The Bruins shipped one of those picks, a conditional fourth-rounder, to Minnesota with Ryan Donato for Charlie Coyle at the 2019 trade deadline. With the seventh-rounder they acquired, they selected USHL winger Jake Schmaltz, who is entering his freshman year at North Dakota.
Kampfer, who was a prospect in the Ducks’ system when the Bruins acquired him for a fourth-rounder in 2010, lifted the Stanley Cup with the Bruins as a rookie in 2011. However, he did not get his name on the trophy — he played in 38 games that year, three shy of the cutoff, and did not see time in the playoffs.
After stints with the Wild, Panthers, and Rangers, Kampfer returned to the Bruins and finally appeared in a playoff game, 12 years after the Ducks drafted him out of Michigan (fourth round, 93rd overall) in 2007.
Kampfer, known to teammates as “Stevie Snipes,” scored the opening goal of the 2019 Eastern Conference finals against Carolina. His wrister off the rush beat Petr Mrazek, in his second-ever postseason appearance.
He opted out of the playoffs in 2020 to protect his wife and young son, who share a congenital heart defect and were more vulnerable to COVID-19.