Chiarelli signed defenseman Adam McQuaid to a three-year extension. Terms were not disclosed, but both sides were happy with the deal that prevents McQuaid from becoming a free agent after the upcoming season and keeps him in Boston through the 2014-15 campaign.
"Adam has been kind of the poster child for our development," Chiarelli said in a conference call Thursday evening. "He came into our organization and he worked hard at his craft at the American League level. He improved every year, found his way into the lineup and now is a real solid contributor with his size, his toughness and his range. He continues to improve and he's still at a young age and we felt fortunate to be able to lock him up for the foreseeable future."
McQuaid, who turns 25 on Oct. 12, worked his way into a regular role on the Boston blue line this past year after spending the bulk of his first three seasons in the organization in Providence. He entered the 2010-11 season as the club's seventh defenseman, but took advantage of the opportunity he received when injuries struck and forced his way into a permanent job. McQuaid's play was strong enough that the Bruins traded away Matt Hunwick and Mark Stuart during the course of the year in large part due to McQuaid's emergence, and the Bruins see room for even more growth.
"He's progressed to a point where he's a fixture in our [top] six," Chiarelli said. "I see some shutdown ability in Adam. I see a positive two-way component to his game that's improving. His passing is improving. I'd like to say he's going to turn into a top-four defenseman. I'd like to say that at some point."
McQuaid hopes to earn his way into a larger role during the course of this new contract, but knows he still has plenty of work to do to be ready for that kind of responsibility.
"Ideally, I'd like to be a top shutdown guy, shut down other teams' top lines and play big minutes," McQuaid said. "That's something that I'll obviously need to work on to get to that point, but ideally that's where I'd like to see myself in the not too far future."
McQuaid averaged 14:51 of ice time in 67 games last season, providing a needed physical presence on the back end, steady defensive play and even some surprising bursts of offensive creativity. He had 3-12-15 totals with 102 hits, 131 blocked shots and 12 fighting majors. He was also second only to captain Zdeno Chara on the club with a plus-30 rating. The 6-foot-5, 207-pound blueliner added four assists, 30 hits, 32 blocked shots and a plus-8 rating in 23 postseason games in Boston's Cup run.
McQuaid also became a bit of a cult hero in Boston, where fans responded to his physical style, "Darth Quaider" nickname and the distinctive long, flowing hair poking out the back of his helmet. McQuaid made sure to put fans at ease that while the playoff beard may be gone, the hair will remain largely intact when he returns for camp.
"I do kind of have the mullet," McQuaid said. "I kept the general idea of it, but I did get a little bit of a haircut.
"I'm extremely excited," McQuaid added of the chance to keep playing in front of those Boston fans. "It's a great organization from top to bottom. I couldn't picture myself being with any other team and being anything other than a Bruin. I love the city, love the fans and the people there. I'm pretty much just overjoyed right now."
The Bruins are happy to have McQuaid locked up as well, but Chiarelli stressed that he isn't necessarily looking to sign any of the other 10 Bruins scheduled to become free agents after next season to extensions just yet.
"This was a case of both parties coming together and reaching a real good deal for both parties," Chiarelli said. "We don't always go out early and try to sign guys before their deals are up. We look at it case by case and when it makes sense we go ahead and do it."
Part of the difficulty in signing too many early deals is the uncertainty of where the salary cap will be in the coming years with the current CBA set to expire after this season.
"From the perspective of the new CBA or this CBA expiring, it's in the back of your head," Chiarelli said. "You factor it into your decision making. It's kind of an overriding thought, but we're not just going to go out today and try to sign everyone to an extension. It just so happened that this one fit for this time in our planning."