After winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli had a little less than two weeks to celebrate the victory before moving on to his offseason duties. First up was the Entry Draft, where the Bruins took defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the first round with the No. 9 pick. On Friday, Chiarelli continued retooling his team in an attempt to repeat as champions.
On the first day of free agency, Chiarelli signed former Montreal Canadiens forward Benoit Pouliot to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Pouliot went in the first round, No. 4, in 2005, and now Chiarelli looks for him to advance his game in Boston.
"We like his skill, we like his size. We think he'd fit in with our team," Chiarelli said during a conference call. "He's still young, we feel he'll develop. We were happy to get him at that number."
Pouliot will be playing for his third NHL team after spending parts of four seasons with the Minnesota Wild and parts of the last two with Montreal. The 24 year-old left winger put up the best statistics of his NHL career last season, amassing 13 goals and 30 points in 79 games.
At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Pouliot hasn't exactly lived up to the expectations brought with being such a high draft pick.
"Maybe [he's] someone who has underachieved, but has a real good skill package, and a real good size package and you know, he has to be pushed," Chiarelli said. "I think we have a strong group that can push him."
The Bruins also lost a vital player that helped them bring a Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time in 39 years, as forward Michael Ryder signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars. In 25 playoff games, Ryder recorded 8 goals and 17 points.
After first-line center Nathan Horton was knocked out of the series in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Ryder moved into his spot and helped spark the Bruins' series comeback by scoring a goal and two assists in the 8-1 rout. He added two more goals later in the series.
"In the three years we had him, he was really good in the postseason," Chiarelli said about Ryder, who he signed before the 2007-08 season.
Although Chiarelli understands he is losing a player that has come through in clutch situations, he still has faith in his club come playoff time in the future.
"The timely scoring is something that I like what I've seen with the rest of the group," he said.
Another key free agent from the Bruins' Stanley Cup run was defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Acquired at the trading deadline, Kaberle added some offense in the postseason, tallying 11 assists.
Chiarelli acknowledged having discussions about a contract with Kaberle on Friday, but nothing has materialized as of yet. The Bruins' GM was not confident of getting "last crack" to match any offer that Kaberle might have on the open market.
"That's been discussed between myself and Tomas's agent. If it doesn't happen that's a risk I was preparing to take," he said.