While the Bruins didn't make any additions on the first day of free agency and are not actively looking to make any moves, three players did officially become former Bruins on Sunday.
Forward Benoit Pouliot and defenseman Joe Corvo are both headed to the Southeast Division on one-year deals, with Pouliot signing with Tampa Bay and Corvo returning to Carolina. Fellow blueliner Greg Zanon is headed back West after agreeing to a two-year deal with Colorado.
Zanon was the only one of the three that had any chance of returning to Boston, and that was a slim one with the Bruins already having five veterans back on defense and rookie Dougie Hamilton expected to step into the final spot in the top six.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had said earlier this offseason that Zanon and fellow trade deadline acquisitions Mike Mottau and Brian Rolston would be allowed to test the market as unrestricted free agents, but did not completely rule out a possible return to Boston. Mottau and Rolston remain unsigned, but Zanon opted for the security of a job on the Avalanche blue line for $4.5 million over the next two seasons. That $2.25 million cap hit is a slight raise from the $1.93 million he carried on his previous three-year deal signed with the Wild in 2009.
Zanon was acquired from Minnesota for young defenseman Steven Kampfer to add some veteran depth and grit to Boston's blue line for the stretch run. He produced mixed results with a goal and two points in 17 games, chipping in 39 hits and 32 blocked shots but also committing some costly turnovers. Some of his issues may have stemmed from trying to learn a new system on the fly, but the Bruins won't get a chance to see how he would have fared in Boston with a full training camp under his belt.
Corvo and Pouliot were given full years to show what they could do in Boston. Corvo struggled mightily and was eventually made a healthy scratch for seven games down the stretch, sitting out the final two games of the Bruins' opening-round playoff loss to Washington. Other than an injury-plagued season that limited him to 52 games in 2009-10, Corvo's 25 points were his lowest since the lockout, while his four goals were the fewest he scored in any of his nine seasons in the NHL.
Chiarelli had stated earlier this offseason that the Bruins would not be bringing Corvo back, but the Hurricanes were willing to try a third go-round with him. Corvo played parts of three seasons in Carolina between 2008 and 2010, then returned for the 2010-11 season. He put up two of his best seasons there, posting 14-24-38 totals in 2008-09 and 11-29-40 totals in 2010-11.
Corvo took a slight pay cut from the $2.25 million average on his previous two-year deal to the $2 million contract he agreed to for 2012-13.
Pouliot's trajectory in Boston was the opposite of Corvo's. The enigmatic forward started slowly but came on strong late in the season while playing on a line with Chris Kelly and Rolston. Pouliot finished with a career-high 32 points with 16 goals, but the Bruins still opted to cut ties when they traded his rights to the Lightning for a fifth-round pick at last week's draft.
Tampa Bay still didn't qualify the restricted free agent, choosing not to risk Pouliot filing for arbitration, but the Lightning quickly reached a deal with him as an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. Pouliot, the fourth-overall pick in the 2005 draft, will make $1.8 million this year after the Bruins signed him for $1.1 million last July 1 when Montreal did not tender him a qualifying offer.
Brad Boyes, who spent the bulk of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with the Bruins, also found a new home on Sunday. The former 43-goal scorer with St. Louis who managed just eight goals last year in Buffalo agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with the New York Islanders.
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