Chris Wagner quickly made his presence felt after signing with the Boston Bruins ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The Walpole, Mass., native not only was able to play for the team he grew up cheering for, he contributed greatly to Boston’s forward core. He became a staple in the bottom-six and was known for his shot blocking and grittiness in getting to the puck.
Wagner blocked a shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes in May and had to watch from home as his team punched its ticket to the Stanley Cup Final. But he’s 100 percent healthy as the 2019-20 season is underway and ready to build off his career-high 12 goals from a season ago.
The 28-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. But for Wagner, it’s not something that’s weighing on his mind.
?It?s not like I?m on a seven-year deal or something,? Wagner told The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. ?For me, it?s kind of the same. You?ve always got to prove yourself. Just want to help the team win and have the best year possible.?
If he does indeed have “the best year possible,” it may be fair to assume he deserves a contract like Noel Acciari’s three-year, $5 million deal the center signed with the Florida Panthers. A deal like the one Acciari received, though meant he no longer would wear Black and Gold, gives Wagner some “hope” for what’s to come.
“… You?re happy for him. It gives you hope, too, that you can get a similar deal or something like that,” he said. “But especially as a friend and linemate, that kind of hits home a little more to see him get a deal like that.”
A lot can happen between now and then. But we’re sure Wagner is excited to be 100 percent after missing the Stanley Cup Final.