They had to trade Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic to get it, but the Boston Bruins finally have some breathing room under the salary cap.
The question now is if they can take advantage.
“If we have any opportunities come up, we now have the flexibility to act on them,” club president Cam Neely told CSN New England. “If something happens now all the way through training camp where we feel we can improve our club, we have a better chance of adding without saying, ‘Okay, now who do we have to subtract?'”
With the loss of Hamilton, which came less than a year after the loss of Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins’ defense is a major question mark heading into 2015-16.
While GM Don Sweeney has called it “a great opportunity” for some of the “kids” — and Neely doesn’t disagree — Neely insists that “by no means are we closing the books and saying this is what we’ve got.”
Unrestricted free agents on defense include Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson. The former is willing to sign a one-year deal, which may be attractive. But Franson, a right shot like Hamilton and Boychuk, may be a better fit.
The Bruins are believed to have made a bid for Mike Green, also a right shot, who signed with Detroit on July 1.
Related: Sweeney explains Hamilton trade: ‘We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer’
Johnny Oduya has signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars.
“Johnny is a steady, veteran presence on the blue line and he’ll complement our group nicely,” GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He has achieved a great deal of success, winning the Stanley Cup twice, and his championship-mentality will be valuable in our room.”
Oduya had wanted to remain in Chicago. The 33-year-old spent two weeks as an unrestricted free agent, waiting to see if the Blackhawks could clear cap space. But in an interesting twist, his fate may have been determined when Chicago traded Patrick Sharp to the Stars, with veteran defender Trevor Daley coming to the ‘Hawks in return.
That left an opening on a relatively inexperienced Stars blue line. In fact, Oduya is now the oldest defenseman in Dallas. The next oldest is Alex Goligoski, who’s 29.
The Florida Panthers have signed Lawson Crouse to a three-year, entry-level contract.
“Lawson is a strong, skilled and physically mature forward with good hands, who will provide us with a prominent forechecking presence each night,” said GM Dale Tallon in a release. “He was one of our best players in development camp and we are confident he can make an immediate impact on our roster, playing on one of our top lines.”
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant added that Crouse “will be given every opportunity to earn a top six forward position on our roster during training camp.”
Crouse was the 11th overall pick at the 2015 draft. Though he received a rousing ovation from the Panthers fans at BB&T Center, his modest stats last season with OHL Kingston left some with doubts.
“I don’t think my points were horrible, but I know they can improve, and I know there is a long ways to go,” he said prior to the draft.
The Panthers also announced today that they’d come to terms with d-man Alex Petrovic on a two-year contract, and that forwards Quinton Howden and John McFarland had agreed to one-year, two-way contracts.