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Gill signs on for the season

Defenseman Hal Gill is in the fold. The veteran Bruins blue liner, 30, elected to sign his qualifying offer of $1.596 million for the 2005-06 season yesterday. Gill, a restricted free agent, will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Gill, who is the Bruins' player representative, stunned many when he made the Boston roster right out of Providence College in the fall of 1997 when all the hype was about No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Thornton. Gill, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, had been penciled in for Providence but his impressive performance earned him a roster spot with the NHL club. He cut his defensive teeth playing alongside Hall of Famer Ray Bourque.

Gill has been among the team's most reliable performers in the last six seasons. In the 2003-04 season, the last one prior to the lockout, he suited up for all 82 contests and earned a plus-16, which was second on the team. He was a plus-21 the previous year. Gill, a native of Concord, is best known for his remarkable ability to hold NHL sniper Jaromir Jagr in check.

''We're pleased that Hal signed his contract," said general manager Mike O'Connell in a statement. ''Hal is one of our steadiest and most reliable players. He plays a lot of minutes and has been one of our highest plus players as well over the past couple of NHL seasons."

There's an old saying: What goes around comes around. In the case of the Bruins, it actually turned out to be true. The club reacquired its fourth-round draft pick in 2006 by dealing the rights to center Yan Stastny to the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers had traded for the Bruins' fourth-round selection in an Aug. 1 deal for forward Brad Isbister. The 22-year-old Stastny was the Bruins' sixth pick (No. 259 overall in the eighth round) in the 2002 draft. He played two seasons at Notre Dame under former Bruin Dave Poulin before heading off to play in Europe. The last two years, he suited up with Nurnberg of the German Elite League and last year was fourth in scoring in the league with 54 points in 51 games.

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