P.J. Axelsson could have appeared in his last game as a Bruin. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
P.J. Axelsson has appeared in 797 NHL games. Each of his appearances has come in a Boston uniform, putting him 10th on the franchise's all-time games played list. But it remains to be seen whether Axelsson will add to that total.
On July 1, the left wing will become an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins have not decided whether to re-sign the versatile Axelsson, who might be at the end of his stay in Boston.
"If it is, it's kind of sad," said Axelsson. "I've been here for a long time. It's the business. I can't really say too much because I don't know."
Axelsson scored 103 goals and had 184 assists for 287 career points. In 2008-09, Axelsson put up a 6-24--30 line in 75 games, a career high in assists in a season. Coach Claude Julien used Axelsson on every line and in every situation, including the power play before Mark Recchi was acquired at the trade deadline. Axelsson was one of four alternate captains.
"We've got some decisions to make as far as signings with amounts, term, and how that impacts future years under the cap," said general manager Peter Chiarelli when asked about bringing back Axelsson, Recchi, or Stephane Yelle. "These are things that we've been addressing and looking at all year. It's come time to make these decisions. Part of those decisions will come out in how we negotiate. Part of those decisions will come out with whom we negotiate. I couldn't tell you exactly what we're going to do, but you'll see it in future days."
Axelsson said he would prefer to remain with the Bruins. If he doesn't re-sign, Axelsson said he'll have to decide whether he wants to stay in the NHL or return to Sweden.
"That's how it is now in this business, especially with the new CBA," Axelsson said of the uncertainty he'll face in the offseason. "There's the most free agents ever. I think that's what we're going to see in years to come now. Shorter contracts and a lot of free agents."