The NHL's free agency period officially began at noon eastern time, but it was a pretty quiet start to the day on Causeway Street for Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins.
It took the Bruins until nearly 6:00 PM ET to make any moves, when they announced that they had locked up restricted free agent forward Byron Bitz to a multi-year deal. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet. The rugged forward was called up from Providence late in the season and quickly became a valuable member of the Bruins fourth line. The Cornell alum appeared in 35 regular season contests, recording 7 points (3-4-7). He also played in 5 playoff games, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
UPDATE (1/2 10:36 AM): According to the Boston Globe Byron Bitz's deal is for 2 years at an average salary of $687,500 ($675,000 next year & $700,000 next season).
Shortly after, the team announced that they have signed gritty centerman Steve Begin to a 1 year, $850,000 contract. Begin has spent 10 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars. Last season, the 31 year old veteran recorded 12 points (5-7-12) in 62 games, splitting time between Montreal and Dallas. He played for Bruins head coach Claude Julien during his time in Montreal. Begin is slated to slide into the role that free agent Stephane Yelle filled last season.
Earlier in the day, the Bruins parted ways with free agents Steve Montador and Martin St. Pierre. Defenseman Steve Montador signed a 2 year deal with the Buffalo Sabres worth $1.55 million per year, while forward Martin St. Pierre signed a deal with the Ottawa Senators. It will interesting to see if St. Pierre will get a shot with the big club or end up in Binghamton.
During Peter Chiarelli's late afternoon conference call with the media, he hinted that the Bruins may sign another one of their free agents before the end of the night. Stay tuned.