BOSTON – Elias Lindholm felt he had an easy decision to make.

As soon as the Bruins expressed their interest in signing the veteran centerman in free agency, he jumped at the chance.

“Original Six, so much history and so many good players on the team. Also, looking at their playoff series against Florida, it’s pretty much right there. So, it was exciting to have the opportunity to join this organization,” Lindholm said on Monday afternoon after signing a seven-year deal with Boston worth an annual cap hit of $7.75 million.

“I heard a lot about the city – players and families that love being there and being a Bruin. So, obviously we're super excited and just can't wait to get going. We're thrilled.”

The 29-year-old pivot is looking for a fresh start in Boston after coming off, perhaps, the most tumultuous season of his career, which included a trade from Calgary to Vancouver in January. Lindholm, who was in the midst of a contract year, finished the 2023-24 campaign with 15 goals and 44 points, his lowest totals since 2020-21.

“Obviously, it definitely did,” Lindholm said when asked if the uncertainty affected his play. “Going into a season like that and being kind of uncertain what's going to happen, and then you kind of know after a little bit that you’re going to get traded, but you don't know when or where and so on.

“It has definitely affected me more than I was hoping, but I'm glad that time is over now and I know for a long time where I'm going to be, so it's exciting.”

Lindholm did not want to compare himself to Bruins legend Patrice Bergeron, but did say that he has long emulated his game after No. 37 and is hoping to bring some of the same elements to the Black & Gold’s lineup.

“I think it's a good fit,” said Lindholm. “Honestly, playing in the League for a long time and kind of try to look at Bergeron as much as possible. I don't want to compare myself or anything like that, but I think I can bring a little bit of what he did.

“I obviously try to come here and bring my game and come back to the player I know I can be and hopefully help this team to achieve the Stanley Cup.”

While training camp is still two months away, there are indications already that Lindholm is likely to line up between Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak, a prospect that certainly excites the Sweden native and former fifth overall pick.

“I mean, he's one of the top players in the League,” said Lindholm. “We'll see what's going to happen but if there's an opportunity to play with him, it'll be exciting. He's one of the special players in the League that knows how to put the puck in the net and set up players. So, if that's the case, it's exciting, but for now I haven't even thought about anything like that. It's just exciting to be a part of this organization and I can't wait to come over and settle in a little bit.”

Regardless of where he ends up in the Bruins’ lineup, Lindholm is eager to complement what he believes is already a strong group.

“Watching them in the playoffs, I think they were kind of right there,” said Lindholm. “Gave Florida a pretty good match, so I think they have a lot of good players. Good goalie, good defense. I mean, I feel like all the pieces are right there.

“I think for myself, it's just to come in and play my game and try to help this team improve and take that next step to achieve whatever I want to achieve.”

Lindholm said he heard from namesake and Swedish national team teammate Hampus Lindholm (no relation) and Bruins captain Brad Marchand before inking his deal with the Black & Gold. He also spoke with Nikita Zadorov, his former teammate with both Calgary and Vancouver, who also signed a long-term deal with Boston on Monday.

“We’ve been following each other,” said Lindholm, who added that his good friend and former Bruin Joakim Nordstrom also advised him about the benefits of playing in Boston. “It's exciting, obviously, coming to a new team like this and everything is so new, so it's always nice to have another guy that you've been around and know kind of well. So I mean, for him I think the way he ended the season there in Vancouver, he can bring a lot.

“Just knowing his presence is big body out there, as the opposing team you always need to be aware. So, it's a really good fit for us.”

Zadorov, meanwhile, had equal praise for his past and now current teammate.

“We were actually joking around last year. We played the Bruins early…’that would be a great place to play here together,’” said Zadorov. “It worked out perfect…our third team together the past four years and, hopefully, the next six years as well. And I mean, he's unbelievable. Obviously, we had a pretty good team in Calgary my first year and then he was a big part of it for sure. He had unbelievable wingers [in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk], and they put up the show, they were probably the best line in the league at that time…

“But he can just show that he can do everything. [Penalty kill], first power play, he’s a first-line centerman, he’s gonna complement his wingers, he’s an unbelievable teammate, he's the guy who's gonna go out there and compete every night, and he wants to win as much as I want. So that's definitely an exciting time for us to come to the Bruins and hopefully try to win something.”

E. Lindholm talks with the media after Free Agency

Nikita Zadorov, Defenseman

Zadorov was clear – his patented “Big Z” nickname is officially retired.

“I know on my past teams, people were calling me “Big Z.” Please do not ever call me “Big Z” now because, I feel like I'm not even close to half of the “Big Zee.” He was unbelievable. He’s one of the best defensemen of all time,” Zadorov said of Bruins legend Zdeno Chara.

“There's definitely a lot to learn from him. Obviously, he was one of my role models growing up because size, kind of physical play and everything, and the leader he is. I think I can learn a lot from him. So yeah, I mean, could be a good sign for sure.”

Zadorov signed a six-year contract with the Bruins on Monday worth an annual cap hit of $5 million. Like Lindholm, the 6-foot-6, 248-pound blue liner said that as soon as Boston became a possible landing spot, he was eager to find common ground and get a deal done.

“Where do I start? Why did I choose the Bruins? I mean everything,” said Zadorov. “The culture in the organization…like, it's a big league. We talk between the guys all the time, and everybody talks about their experience in the past teams and I haven't heard a bad thing in my 11 years about Bruins’ culture, Bruins team, and the players who play here.

“So, pretty much it was a no-brainer for me when we found out the Bruins were interested in me to come and play for them – and it was mutual. I think Boston was on top of my list my whole life. It's an unbelievable organization, Original Six team, and I feel like the Bruins’ style… I always loved watching it, even my first year is my second NHL game was against Boston, and they had those big guys, [Zdeno Chara], [Patrice Bergeron], [Milan Lucic], [Nathan Horton].

“Tough, hard team play against. it was always, one day it would be a great fit for me to come and play for the Bruins. I mean, I'm super thankful for the opportunity from the organization to get the deal done and everything, and I'm super excited to join the Bruins.”

The Moscow native has also always admired Boston’s sporting culture from afar.

“I mean, the city overall…it's probably the best sports city in the United States, and you got the Celtics, they won this year. They always have a really good team and unbelievable history in the past…the Red Sox as well,” said Zadorov. “I mean, I'm not a big baseball guy, but from what I'm hearing, the rivalry against the Yankees and all that, and obviously the [Patriots], Tom Brady and [Bill Belichick], the dynasty…the Bruins, the past and Bobby Orr, and the 2011 [Stanley Cup].

“Like they’re the city of winners and the fans expect you to win and to get every year and I like the challenges. You know, I played on the big market, I played in a big market in Vancouver, and it's always fun when you embrace the challenge and expect high expectations, you know, pressure, and you just bring your best every night, and I think that's a perfect place for me, and I will fit right in for sure.”

While he was drafted as more of an offensive defenseman, Zadorov’s game has evolved with help from coaches like Daryl Sutter in Calgary and Rick Tocchet in Vancouver. The 29-year-old added that part of the appeal of coming to Boston was to play for Jim Montgomery, who he skated with during the offseason while he was with the Avalanche and Montgomery was coaching the University of Denver.

“I can chip in offensively when you need. Obviously, the defense is first for me in being physical, being hard to play against – that’s the main thing as well, but I can also skate and score sometimes…not like a big goal scorer,” said Zadorov. “I think definitely the right coaching helped me a lot, starting with Daryl Sutter. And then last year, I got Rick Tocchet, he was unbelievable to me… worked with me a lot and helped me on so many details, so it's good for D-men.

“That's one of the reasons I came [to Boston] as well because of the coaching staff for this team. I mean, Jim Montgomery, I actually spent a couple of weeks skating with him while he was coaching in university…I kind of know him personally a little bit and have only heard good things about him. And watching the Bruins in the playoffs, while you play on the West Coast, it's easy to watch East Coast games…

“And just there's big simplicity how the Bruins have been playing and how they've been coached well and how they are always creating this unbelievable culture inside the team and everything. So, I just want to get started as soon as possible, and learn new things, and get better every day for sure.”

Zadorov is likely to see plenty of time alongside Charlie McAvoy, who he has always respected as an opponent.

“I've been watching him a lot. He's one of my favorite D-men in the league for sure,” said Zadorov. “And the way he plays, he's got some grit like, when he hits, open ice hits, I think that will fit well with me. He played unbelievably against Toronto [in the playoffs]. It was definitely fun to watch – and in Florida as well.

“I gotta go up there and just complement him, help him to be good, maybe he can create something a little bit more offensively as well because he can trust me to be behind and help them and be aggressive. I like his aggressiveness as well.

“I think it's, it's important in this league, so you can kill plays quickly and then don't let the team have much time in the D-zone, neutral zone, close things quick.”

Zadorov talks with the media after Free Agency

Max Jones, Forward

The feeling was mutual for Max Jones and the Bruins.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney had plenty of praise for the 26-year-old forward earlier this week after announcing the two-year deal (with an annual cap hit of $1 million) to bring the Michigan native to Boston, saying Jones coveted the opportunity to don the Black & Gold.

When Jones addressed the media on Wednesday from his home in Birmingham, Michigan, he couldn’t temper his excitement.

“We’ve been talking for a while, and then the deadline…didn't come through, and then towards the end of the year we were just kind of trying to set on something to kind of move forward and get a fresh start,” said Jones. “Talking to Sweeney…as a player, you always kind of want to feel wanted, and that was kind of the feeling that I got from him and it made me feel very motivated. And that was just an easy decision for me.”

Like many of his other fellow newcomers, Jones expressed that he has heard nothing but good things about the Bruins and team’s culture.

“I mean, there was a lot that attracted me to the Bruins, beginning with the culture and, obviously, how they play as a team,” said Jones. “I think, obviously, a fresh start was kind of what I was looking for, and then when I heard that the Bruins were interested, and I obviously was interested, it kind of made the decision very easy for me.

“I spent my whole career in Anaheim, so I obviously didn't really know what it was like elsewhere. [Former Duck Kevin] Shattenkirk had come and talked to us about it…a lot of guys have spoken to me personally about Boston and what it's like there and the organization and how it's ran, and I've heard nothing but amazing things.

“So, it was kind of always in the back of the head there when you're thinking about somewhere that you'd like to play. And then obviously visiting Boston, every time we came and played, I just loved the city, loved the rink, the fans, the way they interacted… everything about it was awesome.”

Jones also has a close relationship with Bruins blue liner Hampus Lindholm, whom he spent four seasons with in Anaheim.

“Hamp and I were really close in my first couple years there,” said Jones. “ Being a young guy, my wife now – she was my girlfriend at the time – hadn't come out yet. So, I spent a lot of time with Hampus and the guys who were kind of the single guys on the team…or not single, but alone in Anaheim, so spent a lot of time with Hampus at his house and on the road and dinners, and so we grew pretty close.

“And then when he got traded to Boston, which seems like a while ago now, it was sad to see him go… and then he was one of the first guys to shoot me a text right when I signed the deal. So obviously, Hamp he's always just a super nice guy and always wants to help whenever he can.

“He was congratulating me and then offering his help for anything I needed.”

The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder described himself as “big, strong, fast” and someone who will bring plenty of energy to the Bruins’ lineup.

“I kind of like to play the game with my hair on fire a little bit. Just kind of go, go, go,” said Jones. “I think the more I get invested in a game and the more my heart rate gets up, the more effective I can be. I think that just makes it easier for me to cement my playing style into a game each and every night, possessing pucks, forecheck, getting pucks back in the corner of the net, creating a little bit of a havoc around the net and on the other team.

“I think playing up and down the lineup is something that I can do… to play kind of each and every role. I think that's kind of what I did in Anaheim over the years. So, I kind of learn how to play in every single situation and role and kind of just learn my way… the niche in each setting.

“But I try to stick to my core values of being a big, strong, fast, heavy player.”

Jones meets with the media via Zoom

Riley Tufte, Forward

Sometimes size can get in the way.

At 6-foot-6, Riley Tufte has had to learn how maneuver himself through the pro ranks as one of the bigger bodies at the highest levels of hockey.

Tufte, who was the 25th overall pick in 2016, believes he has made enormous strides over the past two seasons in finally establishing himself and his game as he aims to become a full-time NHLer.

“I think, especially me, being 6-6 and a bigger guy, definitely it’s taken a little bit for me to grow into my game,” Tufte said after inking a one-year, $775,000 contract with Boston on Monday. “I think I’ve found that pro game every year, I’ve gotten better every year…just kind of finding my role. It’s been an amazing last four, five years of pro. Looking forward to being a Boston Bruin. It’s gonna be awesome. It’s a process as me as a big guy and I think I’ve taken huge steps.”

Tufte has played just 18 games in the NHL (13 for Dallas from 2021-23 and five for Colorado in 2023-24), but put forth some strong offensive numbers in the AHL over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old Minnesota native tallied 19 goals and 35 points in 63 games for the Texas Stars in 2022-23, before setting career marks with 23 goals and 45 points in 67 games for the Colorado Eagles last season.

“Being a bigger guy, you’ve got to find it a little bit, find your game. I think I’ve done that the last two years for sure,” said Tufte, who was teammates with both Trent Frederic and Jeremy Swayman for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. “Just finding my game, finding that confidence in my game, just really going out there and trying to protect pucks down low and taking it to the net and using my size. I think the biggest thing is just using my size and learning how to do that against high end competition.”

Tufte speaks with media via Zoom

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