- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- While there have already been numerous changes for the Boston Bruins this offseason, the organization's blueprint for winning hasn't changed.
Following the Bruins' loss in the Stanley Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks two and a half weeks ago, Boston has traded forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars, while free-agent forward Nathan Horton signed a seven-year deal worth $37 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has countered by signing free-agent forward Jarome Iginla to a one-year, incentive-based contract worth $6 million. Boston received forward Loui Eriksson and prospects Joe Morrow, Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith from the Stars in the Seguin deal.
The Bruins also signed goaltender Tuukka Rask to an eight-year deal worth $56 million, and they're "very, very close" on a potential eight-year extension for assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, according to Chiarelli.
While the roster has dramatically changed, Chiarelli is pleased with the offseason transactions, and he's planning on a quiet summer.
"We're going to stand pat," Chiarelli said. "I like the fact we're going to have a competition on that third line. We've got some good young players that are already in the organization and just acquired, so as of right now, you never know what can happen the rest of the summer but it will slow down. It has slowed down."
Chiarelli, who has always done well at managing the salary cap, has done the same this offseason to make room in order to sign Rask, Bergeron and Iginla. According to CapGeek.com, the Bruins are currently well over the upcoming season's $64.3 million cap with a payroll of $70.483 million, but Chiarelli isn't concerned. The Bruins will make a few more tweaks, including placing former Bruins forward Marc Savard on long-term injury reserve, which will allow the team to gain back his $4 million cap hit.
"We're fine," Chiarelli said. "We've got space. We've got Savard on LTIR. We're in good shape. To commit to a contract like [Rask's], obviously we've got to put pieces in place in advance, but we're in good shape."
Bruins coach Claude Julien is thrilled with the offseason acquisitions and understands why the team had to make some changes despite its second Stanley Cup appearance in three years.
"I'm happy. I think it's great," Julien said of the offseason additions. "When you have an Iginla and you have an Eriksson and you have those guys who are going to be battling, including Jordan Caron, who is now into his fourth year. ... I think we have a lot of depth."
Along with the newcomers, the Bruins still have Carl Soderberg in the mix, too.
"Soderberg, I'm telling you right now, we didn't see much of him but I've seen enough in practice and in the few games that if this guy, once he's got the experience in this league he's going to be a good player," Julien said. "I see good things coming from him."
Before next season, Julien does have some lineup decisions to make, and they'll probably work themselves out during training camp. He has the option of putting Iginla on the top line along with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, which would mean Eriksson could play on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Or it could be the other way around, with Eriksson on the top line and Iginla with Bergeron.
"To me, I always thought those two lines were identical as far as contribution and production," Julien said.
As far as the Bruins' third line, Julien has to decide whether to keep Soderberg at center or put him on the wing. The same goes for Chris Kelly. Where, then, does Caron fit into the mix? Plus there are other players in the system who are expected to compete for a job next season. Julien also has to decide which goalie will serve as Rask's backup. All indications are Niklas Svedberg will be that guy.
"Those are all things I've got to figure out," Julien said. "I can't stand here today and say I've got it figured out. We're going to have to see it develop."
Since exit day, Julien has not talked with Seguin. The two have exchanged text messages, but the coach said he plans on talking with Seguin at some point.
"There was no issue between Tyler and I," Julien said. "I'm not afraid to say it and you guys can ask him at some point. There were no issues there. I worked with him as a hockey player and I dealt with him as a person. There were never any issues that I know about. I thought we had a good relationship."
During Seguin's exit meeting with Julien, the coach told him he worked hard in the finals and competed hard. Julien said he was also critical in the areas where Seguin needs to improve.
"Although his playoffs were a little bit up and down, it was a young player that found a way to battle through it. Maybe the goal production wasn't there but I thought his work ethic and his compete level was there," Julien said.
As far as Horton, Julien admitted he was a bit surprised he decided to sign elsewhere.
"He was happy with us. We had a great relationship and he did some good things for us," Julien said. "I don't know the reasons why he chose to go to Columbus. I know it wasn't personal, not just with myself but with the organization. That much I know. But the main reason, he's the only one who can answer that."
With training camp less than two months away, it appears the Bruins are positioned to make another deep run next season. With new faces in town to complement an already strong core of players for the Bruins, Julien only needs to find what works best moving forward.
"We'll just have to, like anything else, put that puzzle together," he said.