Bartkowski marks the second restricted free agent signed by the Bruins this offseason, following goalie Niklas Svedberg. His contract is worth $1.25 million.
Out of the club's RFAs that need to be re-signed, only Bartkowski filed for arbitration. When General Manager Peter Chiarelli met with media on the final day of Bruins' Development Camp Sunday, he told reporters that he thought a deal would get done with the blueliner before his arbitration hearing. That proved true.
"It’s always good if you can come to an agreement before the hearing. So I think it sends a positive message to Matt that we want to have him back," Chiarelli said Monday, when the deal was announced. "It was going to be a contract anyways, because he elected arb, but I’m okay with that. It’s just good to get it done."
"It doesn’t mean you do it and your compromise or work around the edges - it’s to get a good result, and you try and do it in the best interest of the player also."
Bartkowski is coming off his first full-time NHL job in 2013-14, in his fourth year in the Bruins organization. He played 64 games, recording 18 assists with a plus-22 rating. The defenseman opened eyes during the 2013 postseason, when he filled in for injuries along with Torey Krug and scored his first NHL goal in his second playoff game.
When Dennis Seidenberg was lost for the season with a torn ACL/MCL, Bartkowski had to help fill the void on the left side.
Entering his fifth year pro after Ohio State, the 26-year-old is still on an upward progression.
"He’s still relatively young. I thought that when Dennis Seidenberg got hurt, he was able to come in and play some real solid minutes," said Chiarelli.
"He’s the type of player that can really push the puck well. A lot of people remember the couple of blips in the playoffs, but he gave us very good service during the course of the year with Seidenberg out, and it’s a tough position in the League, defense, and there are nuances that the’s still learning and I expect him to continue to improve."
Chiarelli has been transparent about the fact that the Bruins have nine NHL-caliber defensemen. If training camp were to open tomorrow, that mix would include Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky.
"We can’t go into the year with nine NHL defensemen," Chiarelli said back on July 1, after the opening of free agency. "At some point, I have to do something there, but I’m in no hurry. It may be that we see how the preseason goes, with who’s mixing who’s matching with whom."
"So I've got to do something. I can do it now. I can do it during the summer. The very latest point is when we have to submit our [opening day] roster."
"I’m happy with the D that we have. We have more than enough," he added. "I’ve had [general managers] call me for our D from the moment we lost. They want our D. They’re coached well, they’ve developed well, so I’m pretty comfortable with what we have. [We have] to figure out the right formula; that’s what our jobs are."
Out of that nine-man group, Krug, an entry-level free agent who can negotiate with only the Bruins, and Warsofsky, a restricted free agent, have yet to be re-signed.
Pastrnak Signs Entry-Level Deal, Set to Attend Training Camp
Right wing David Pastrnak impressed at the Bruins' recent development camp, after being drafted 25th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft at the end of June.
With the potential the Bruins see in the forward, he was rewarded with an entry-level contract before heading home to the Czech Republic.
It was fairly important to sign Pastrnak by July 15, a signing deadline set forth in the Swedish NHL Transfer Agreement, since he was under contract with Sodertalje in Sweden. He could have been signed by the Bruins after that date, but it would have required an extra cost to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.
The entry-level deal essentially releases Pastrnak from his Swedish contract. The forward will report to Boston for training camp in September.
"He’ll end up coming to camp now, and he’ll get the experience of a training camp, and he’ll get some games," said Chiarelli. "He had a terrific development camp, and I know everyone’s talking about him. He’s a good young player, he’s just 18 years old."
"It’s well-documented that we’re looking for skill and speed and he fits that bill, but let’s not put the cart before the horse with David. I think we’re fortunate to get him where we got him and he had a terrific camp, and we’ll see where it goes from there."
The Bruins get the benefit of seeing him in training camp, followed by the preseason and possibly the nine-game regular season window, if he progresses and proves himself ready for time in the NHL.
"Well, it’s again, [camp is] another step along the way, and it’s important that we don’t skip those steps," said Chiarelli. "And at each step, the level of play, the tempo of play, the strength of the players all increases, so with a young 18-year-old who’s 171 pounds, you have to be careful. Now, he’s strong, he’s naturally strong, so he’s got that going for him, but we’ll have to see."
As a right-shot right winger, Pastrnak is a coveted asset for the Bruins and could fill an area of need for the club. It's just a matter of when that time will come.