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Gone: Clifton signs with Sabres, Orlov to Hurricanes

The Bruins blue line loses two pieces.

NHL: APR 17 Eastern Conference First Round - Panthers at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The fireworks started early for the Boston Bruins as they made nine deals to kick off July 1 and free agency.

While they added to the team, the Bruins lost two faces on the blue line: Connor Clifton and Dmitry Orlov.

During his media availability earlier this afternoon, Don Sweeney also mentioned it’s all but written in stone that the team will not sign Tyler Bertuzzi.

Here’s a little breakdown of Clifton and Orlov’s deals followed by Sweeney’s comments on Bertuzzi today:

Connor Clifton

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Clifton signed a three-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres worth $10 million — $3.3 million a season.

Clifton had his best season during the 2022-23 outing, with career-high goals, assists and overall points with five goals and 18 assists for a 23-point season. He even set a career high in games played at 78 games.

In five seasons with the Bruins, Clifton’s game grew and took shape for him to become a physical staple on the blue line. That physicality because more disciplined and less reckless this year, which aided to his consistent play in the regular season.

But the playoffs, weren’t kind for the defensemen. He was -1 and -3 in two of the three games he played in during the 2022-23 first round.

Although his performance tapered off in the postseason, Clifton was rewarded with a nice paycheck for what he did in the regular season and is a good pick-up for the Sabres.

Dmitry Orlov

Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Seven Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Orlov signed a big, two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes for $15.5 million, with an AAV of $7.75 million.

After signing the deal, Hurricanes’ Team Reporter Walt Ruff posted some remarks from Orlov after inking the deal.

The Bruins acquired Orlov in February along with Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals. In just 23 regular season games with the B’s, Orlov quickly impacted the lineup. He had three goals and six assists total in his first four games with the B’s and averaged over 21 minutes on ice almost every game.

In 23 games, he registered four goals and 13 assists for 17 points which was just two points shy of what he racked up with the Caps in 43 games. In the playoffs, he registered eight assists against the Florida Panthers.

It wasn’t shocking that Orlov was snatched up fast — and the Bruins weren’t going to be able to give the defensemen a contract he was looking for with the salary cap they were facing.

Tyler Bertuzzi

NHL: APR 26 Eastern Conference First Round - Panthers at Bruins
NHL: APR 26 Eastern Conference First Round - Panthers at Bruins

Sweeney was asked during media availability if the door on signed Tyler Bertuzzi was closed. Sweeney responded, “In all likelihood, yes.”

He went on to say in regards to what everything came down to with Bertuzzi: “The term that he has rightfully probably earned, the AAV that he’s seeking and what other teams are in position to provide that we probably weren’t, unless I made another big move and again, he’s going to land in a really good spot for him and his family and we wish him luck. He was a great piece of our puzzle and dearly would like to have gone down the path to extend him.”

Sweeney added he feels the Bruins’ offense is where the team needed to fill the most holes, especially after exiting the playoffs in the first round.

He didn’t sound concerned overall with the status of the defense, saying “Our defense and our goaltending are pretty much what we had last year. Congrats to Connor Clifton and all the other free agents that had other opportunities to go elsewhere, but that was a pretty good d-corps last year, so we feel pretty good about that.”