Danny Briere’s heading home to his native Quebec. Patrick Elias is staying in New Jersey.
And leave it to the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars to steal the headlines Thursday by completing a blockbuster trade a day before the start of the NHL’s free-agency period. In exchanging seven players, the rebuilding Stars acquired forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley in exchange for veteran forward Loui Eriksson.
The Bruins were able to clear about $4.75 million in space under the salary cap.
Otherwise, the list of high-profile free agents continued to shrink even before the official signing period begins at noon today. Briere and Elias became the latest to be taken off a market that’s already minus Vincent Lecavalier, who signed with Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Briere signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for the French Canadian, who grew up in Gatineau, Quebec, and spent his junior career in Drummondville. Briere, a seven-time 25-goal scorer, became a free agent after the Flyers bought out the two remaining years on his contract.
The Devils re-signed Elias to a three-year, $16.5 million deal, locking up the franchise’s career goals and points leader before he was eligible to test the market. He has spent his entire 15-year career with the Devils, during which he has amassed 375 goals, 555 assists and 930 points in 1,090 career games.
Elias has also led the Devils in points eight times, including this past season when he finished with 36 (14 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games.
New Jersey also re-signed veteran forward Dainius Zubrus to a three-year, $9.3 million contract.
Defenseman Keith Ballard didn’t wait long to find a new team. Not long after having the final two years of his contract bought out by Vancouver, Ballard agreed to a two-year deal with Minnesota on Thursday.
Other teams were busy taking advantage of their final opportunity to free up salary cap space.
Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski headed a list of five players that were placed on unconditional waivers with the intention of having their contracts bought out.
New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg, Colorado defenseman Greg Zanon, Nashville defenseman Hal Gill and Edmonton center Eric Belanger were also placed on unconditional waivers.