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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was made clear in recent weeks that the Bruins were not going to sign unrestricted free agent Carl Soderberg, but it became official on Thursday when they traded the center’s rights to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2016 sixth-round draft pick.

The pick belonged to the Bruins originally, having gone to Colorado in the trade deadline deal that sent Jordan Caron to the Avalanche for Max Talbot and Paul Carey.

Thursday’s trade was consummated on the day the free agent talking period began. Soderberg’s agent was allowed to begin discussions with other clubs in advance of free agency beginning on July 1. ESPN reported on Thursday that Soderberg’s camp is looking for a contract in the range of $5 million per year, far too rich for the Bruins.

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Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had foreshadowed the move earlier in the day, saying it was possible that he might trade the rights to a player before July 1.

While the Bruins did get a sixth-round pick for Soderberg’s rights, they could have traded the center sooner. And perhaps they should have.

Given the team’s struggles, the Bruins could have opted to ship Soderberg elsewhere at the trade deadline, when teams were giving big returns for talent. Boston could have gotten at least a first-round pick for Soderberg at that point, or in the months before, though the team was loathe to give up on a season in which it still saw potential.

It would have been a difficult move for then-GM Peter Chiarelli to make, given his tenuous situation, but it would have been a boon in a season in which it seemed clear even then that the Bruins would not make waves in the playoffs — if they even qualified.

Soderberg played this past season on a $1,008,333 contract, and stands to get a significant raise in free agency. This could possibly be his one chance to cash in, as Soderberg will be 30 in October. The center was acquired by the Bruins from the Blues on July 23, 2007, for goalie Hannu Toivonen. But instead of coming to the NHL immediately, Soderberg spent six more seasons in Sweden before joining the Bruins at the end of the 2012-13 season.

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After that, he played two full seasons in Boston, and was at his most effective centering a line with Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson as his wings. Soderberg played 161 games for the Bruins with 29 goals and 65 assists.


Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.