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Bruins sign Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly

Team locks up last restricted free agents

Jimmy Hayes (left) was recently traded to the Bruins from the Panthers for winger Reilly Smith and the contract of the injured Marc Savard.AP

After a week of major changes to the roster — subtracting Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic, and Reilly Smith — the Bruins took care of some necessary business in building their team for the 2015-16 season, signing their remaining restricted free agents.

The Bruins announced on Monday that they signed the newly acquired Jimmy Hayes to a three-year deal with a cap hit of $2.3 million annually, and signed Brett Connolly to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.025 million.

Boston already had locked up its other restricted free agent, Ryan Spooner, last week, signing him to a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $950,000.


The Bruins now have approximately $65,835,667 committed to 19 players on one-way deals plus David Pastrnak, who is on his entry-level deal. That figure also includes $2.75 million in salary retained in the Lucic deal and approximately $969,000 in overages from last season.

The newest signings address the pressing issues for the Bruins, but the team is not done yet. It could still use some help on defense.

The deals for Hayes and Connolly are in line with their production and projections. Hayes scored 19 goals and had 16 assists in 72 games last season with the Panthers, a breakout season for the 25-year-old. The Bruins will pay more than a million dollars less for Hayes for the next two seasons than they would have for Smith (cap hit of $3.425 million), whose production declined last season after scoring 20 goals in 2013-14.

Connolly did not get a good introduction to Boston after being acquired at the trade deadline in March. He suffered a displaced fracture of his right index finger in just his second practice with the Bruins and didn't return until the final five games, tallying two assists.

"Obviously when teams do kind of retool, it gives opportunities for guys like myself to step up and contribute and that's what every guy wants — he wants an opportunity to play and be a contributor," Connolly told the Bruins' website. "Obviously it's a fresh start, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I should be in a pretty good situation here this year, so I'm excited to get going."


Connolly will get a chance to prove that he's worth the two second-round draft choices the Bruins sent to the Lightning to get him in March. The 23-year-old scored 12 goals and added five assists in 55 games last season between Tampa Bay and Boston, and has yet to capitalize on the talent that led to Tampa Bay drafting him sixth overall in 2010.

"There's a lot of good players, and up top, that's obviously where you want to be," Connolly said. "I know that's where my game can be, so I'm excited for the opportunity. I've been working very hard this summer to be in the best shape possible to have a good start and come into training camp and be in good shape and be ready to play more minutes and be a contributor, help the team win. I'm excited to get down there and help them do that."

The Bruins also signed forward Brandon DeFazio to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level. DeFazio played in two games for the Canucks last season, spending most of the year with the Utica Comets in the AHL. The 26-year-old had 21 goals and 22 assists in 75 games for the Comets.