As free agency opened, the Bruins already lost a piece of their Cup run team.
Center Noel Acciari will head to Florida for a three-year deal worth $1.67 million annually to total $5 million. The Providence alumnus was a stalwart on the fourth line throughout last season.
“The Boston organization was nothing but great to me and my family and I want to thank them for everything they’ve done for me,” he said on NHL Network. “It was tough parting with those guys. We were a family there. But for me and my family, we thought the next opportunity presented itself and to be part of a great organization down in Florida and to be able to build a winning team down there made us a excited. We wanted to be a part of that.”
Acciari tallied six goals and eight assists last season in 72 games, and in 180 career games with the Bruins he posted 18 goals with 13 assists. Undrafted out of college, Acciari signed with the Bruins following his national championship season with Providence.
The Johnston, R.I., native departing leaves some room in the bottom six forwards. Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Joakim Nordstrom all come back, as does Karson Kuhlman after emerging late in the season and becoming an option in the playoffs.
Center Jack Studnicka is expected to make a push to make the team out of training camp after a stellar final junior season, and the team has expressed the desire to keep him in the middle, so he becomes an obvious candidate as a replacement, though his skillset projects to extend farther than a bottom six role.
Marcus Johansson is the other Bruins unrestricted free agent forward as the B’s have mostly their restricted free agents to deal with to get their cap situation under control and add pieces.
But, Acciari not returning also allows the possibility for there being enough room to bring in a forward depending how they manage the cap, or, they look internally at their many options in the organization.
B’s sign Ritchie
In need of a right winger, the Bruins at least began to address that on Monday.
The Bruins reportedly signed 6-foot-4 right winger Brett Ritchie to a one-year deal worth $1 million on Monday as free agency opened, starting to fill their need for a big body who can score on the right side.
Ritchie, a native of Orangveille, Ont., has spent his entire career with the Dallas Stars where he scored six points in 53 games. His four goals a season ago was the lowest of his career, after he posted a 16-goal season two years ago.
The 26-year-old projects to play in the bottom six and will soften some of the blow from losing Noel Acciari to a more lucrative deal to the Panthers earlier in the day.
Ritchie plays a physical game, putting up 57 penalty minutes a season ago for a career-high. He played in one game with the Stars during their run to the Western Conference semi-finals.
A second-round draft pick in 2011, Ritchie went from playing in Niagara in the OHL to the AHL where he bounced up and down between the minors and the NHL until the past three seasons, which he spent entirely with the Dallas Stars.
If the Bruins are looking for scoring, they’re going to have to do more work, but with the likely departure of Marcus Johansson — who did mostly play on the left side, but was able to move around — Ritchie is at least the start of adding some depth on that side of the ice.
After getting banged up in the Stanley Cup Final by the Blues as well, there was a call for more size, and being 6-foot-4 and not afraid to play a physical game fits the bill and is a big reason the Bruins signed Ritchie.