BOSTON – The Bruins locked up another key piece of their roster when they officially announced the signing of Shawn Thornton to a two-year extension Monday afternoon.
Thornton's re-signing follows a trend of Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli being proactive in keeping the nucleus of a club that won the Stanley Cup last spring together for the foreseeable future. Earlier this year, Chiarelli signed defenseman Adam McQuaid, forward Rich Peverley, center David Krejci and defenseman Johnny Boychuk to extensions to prevent them from reaching free agency this summer.
The Bruins still have a number of key players slated to enter free agency after the season, but with the playoffs drawing close, Chiarelli won't be negotiating any more deals as long as the Bruins are playing.
"No, the rest we've put off until after the season," Chiarelli said before Monday's 8-0 win over the Maple Leafs at the Garden. "I've spoken to all of them, and I want them to focus on hockey, so we're not doing any more until after the season."
After signing Boychuk last month, Chiarelli stated that he was in talks with all of the club's remaining pending free agents, but only Thornton reached a new agreement.
That leaves center Chris Kelly, forwards Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell and defenseman Joe Corvo slated for unrestricted free agency, along with trade deadline pickups Greg Zanon, Mike Mottau and Brian Rolston. Goalie Tuukka Rask and forward Benoit Pouliot are scheduled to become restricted free agents.
Kelly (who scored his 18th goal and added his 15th assist on Monday), Campbell (who also added a goal) and Paille (who chipped in an assist) would be the most important of the pending UFAs to retain, but there's now a strong possibility that they will test the market after the season.
Kelly was unaware of the suspension of talks until informed of Chiarelli's comments after the game, but agreed with the sentiment that the focus now has to be on the ice and trying to defend the Cup.
"If you wouldn't have said that I wouldn't have known," Kelly said before joking, "Now I'm crushed.
"No, I think right now it's about the team," Kelly added. "We're coming down to the stretch. We need to be all focused on the task at hand, and that's playing every game to the best of our ability and going out there and winning those games. All those other outside distractions, that-s what it is -– distractions. Obviously I'm happy for everyone that got signed. Thorty, the other guys that got extended earlier in the year, but right now, I think the rest of us are just focused on coming to the rink, doing our job and helping this team do well."
Powered by WordPress.com VIP