Boston re-signed restricted free agent forward Lane MacDermid and signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Garnet Exelby, and both will have a chance in camp to compete for spots with the big club.
Both players signed one-year, two-way deals. MacDermid will make $600,000 if he sticks with the big club in Boston and $70,000 if he is assigned to their AHL affiliate in Providence, while Exelby will make $600,000 in Boston and $130,000 in Providence.
MacDermid was a fourth-round pick of the Bruins in 2009 and made his NHL debut this past March in his third pro season. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, the 22-year-old supplies size and toughness, which he showed by taking on Rangers heavyweight Mike Rupp in his NHL debut in New York on March 4.
MacDermid played five games in Boston, then joined the team as a black ace in the playoffs for the second straight year. He didn't score, but had six shots and 10 hits with the big club, while adding 4-12-16 totals, 121 penalty minutes and 13 fighting majors in 69 games in Providence.
MacDermid, who has 13-27-40 totals, 434 penalty minutes and 54 fighting majors in 212 games in his three seasons in Providence, has a shot at earning a job in Boston this year. While the re-signings of fourth-liners Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille would appear to block his path for now, he could stick as the club's 13th forward or get into the fourth-line mix if Paille or Campbell slips up to the third line.
Even if MacDermid doesn't make the team out of camp, he will likely be in line for more call-ups during the season if injuries strike. He did not look out of place at all in his brief stint last year, and while he is known for his toughness, he is a more well-rounded player than many pigeonholed in that role. MacDermid has been used as a penalty killer throughout his time in Providence and helped Windsor win the Memorial Cup in his final season of junior hockey in 2008-09.
Exelby is on the other end of the spectrum. While just 30, he is trying to earn his way back into the NHL after playing in the AHL the past two seasons. Prior to that, he played 408 games in the NHL with Atlanta and Toronto, posting 7-34-50 totals with 584 penalty minutes. Earning a job in Boston would bring his NHL career full circle, as he was selected by the Thrashers in the eighth round of the 1999 draft, which was held at what was then known as the Fleet Center.
Like MacDermid, Exelby carries a reputation for his physical play, as the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is known for his big hits and is willing to drop the gloves when needed. He was a regular on the Atlanta blue line for five seasons from 2003-09, but saw his ice time diminish in Toronto after being traded to the Leafs.
This will be his third straight one-year, two-way deal with an Original Six team. After signing with Chicago two years ago, he spent the entire 2010-11 season in Rockford, where he served as captain and posted 3-10-13 totals with 128 PIMs and eight fighting majors in 77 games.
Last year, he signed with Detroit but other than being called up as a black ace in the playoffs he remains in Grand Rapids. Exelby put together a solid campaign there, with 7-14-21 totals, 177 PIMs and eight fighting majors in 75 games.
Exelby will likely spend the bulk of this season in Providence, where the Bruins could use an experienced blueliner to help bring along their younger defense prospects. With Andrew Bodnarchuk signing with Los Angeles and Nathan McIver remaining unsigned, the Bruins had been facing the prospect of stocking Providence with a defensive corps consisting of first-year pros Tommy Cross, Torey Krug and Zach Trotman along with fellow youngsters Matt Bartkowski, Colby Cohen, David Warsofsky, Kevin Miller and Ryan Button.
With his NHL experience, Exelby can't be ruled out of the mix for a job in Boston either. The Bruins have five veterans back in Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid, with rookie Dougie Hamilton expected to round out the top six. That still leaves room for someone to claim the seventh spot. Barring the addition of any other veteran free agents, Krug and Bartkowski likely have the inside track, but Exelby could earn the job with a strong camp if the Bruins decide Krug and Bartkowski are better off developing with lots of ice time in Providence rather than sitting in the press box in Boston.
Photo via Facebook/Garnet Exelby
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