Solid two-way defenseman (File/Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
Seidenberg will be staying around with 4-year extension
Had Dennis Seidenberg waited until July 1, he could have been one of the more attractive defensemen on the NHL free agent market and possibly earned a payday north of $4 million per season.
Instead Seidenberg signed a four-year, $13 million extension with the Bruins yesterday ($3.25 million annual cap hit). He was their top priority to re-sign because of his seamless transition to Boston following a deadline-day deal from Florida March 3.
“We’re happy to get this done,’’ said general manager Peter Chiarelli. “We value him as a strong, two-way defenseman. He showed that style of play. He showed his strength. He showed it in a matchup role. He showed an offensive side to his game, too, that we knew he had.’’
The Bruins could have signed Seidenberg as a UFA last summer. But they opted to sign Derek Morris to a one-year, $3.3 million contract to serve as Zdeno Chara’s partner. Seidenberg was passed over by every club until the Panthers signed him to a one-year, $2.25 contract Sept. 14.
But Seidenberg’s better-than-expected play in 2009-10 made him an attractive target for the Bruins. In 62 games for Florida, he had two goals and 21 assists. Seidenberg was acquired with prospect Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and the No. 36 pick in this month’s draft.
“We were scouting him a lot throughout the year in Florida,’’ Chiarelli said. “He was a guy that kept popping up high on our scouting list. We went into it knowing we’d try our hardest to re-sign him. We ended up re-signing him. He wasn’t a case of simply a rental.’’
In 17 games with the Bruins, Seidenberg, who turns 29 on July 18, had two goals and seven assists while averaging 22:57 of ice time per appearance, third-most behind Chara and Dennis Wideman.
The left-shot defenseman, playing the right side next to Chara, exhibited a physical, intelligent, two-way approach. But on April 3, the skate of Toronto’s Nikolai Kulemin sliced into Seidenberg’s left forearm and lacerated a tendon. Three days later, Seidenberg underwent season-ending surgery to repair the tendon.
On Friday, Seidenberg traveled to Boston from his offseason home in Florida to have his arm examined. Upon conclusion of the examination, both sides signed off on the extension.
“Watching those [playoff] games, it was more being annoyed just having to watch and not being able to help the guys,’’ said Seidenberg, who might have been available for the Eastern Conference finals had the Bruins defeated the Flyers. “They did a tremendous job going that far. I hated watching.’’
Unsigned restricted free agents include Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart, Daniel Paille, and Vladimir Sobotka. Mark Recchi, Johnny Boychuk, Miroslav Satan, and Steve Begin will be unrestricted free agents. Among the UFAs, Recchi and Boychuk are the higher priorities.
The Bruins, with the second pick in this month’s draft, will also sign either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall to a three-year, entry-level contract for $3.75 million ($900,000 base salary plus bonuses), the maximum amount a 2010 draftee can earn.
Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected the current $56.7 million cap to rise by approximately $2 million next season. Chiarelli said the front office has not decided whether to approach the ceiling.
“We’re not sure yet,’’ Chiarelli said. “We’ve still got significant planning to do.’’
Because the collective bargaining agreement will expire on Sept. 15, 2011, a hard cap is in place for 2010-11, meaning all bonuses must be applied under the ceiling. If the NHLPA votes to extend the CBA by one year into 2011-12, the bonus cushion (7.5 percent of the upper limit) will come back into play. The players have grumbled about escrow concerns under the current CBA.