Patrice Bergeron is among the standouts in this summer's crop of unrestricted free agents. It's expected the 36-year-old Boston Bruins center will re-sign with the only NHL team he's ever played for, but it's possible he signs elsewhere when the free-agent market opens on July 13.
Boston Hockey Now's Jimmy Murphy ruminated on the subject following the Bruins' 6-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. While it seems a given Bergeron will sign a one-year extension or retire as a Bruin, Murphy felt there's a slight chance the Boston captain could test the market if the Bruins fail to stage a Stanley Cup run over the next two months.
Murphy cited numerous sources saying Bergeron would draw plenty of interest if he became available on the open market. He also noted Bergeron's former agent, Kent Hughes, is now the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. However, Murphy doubted Bergeron would sign with the Bruins' long-time rival.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun recently indicated there hasn't been much contract discussion between Bruins management and their captain. That's by design as both sides are willing to be patient. Prior to training camp, Bergeron said he'd play out this season and talk contract afterward.
Bergeron is completing an eight-year, $55-million contract with an annual cap hit of $6.875 million, though Cap Friendly shows he's earning $4.375 million in actual salary this season. He remains among the league's elite two-way forwards and the Bruins' first-line center. Given his age, however, he won't get another long-term deal like that again.
The Bruins and Bergeron could agree to a two-year deal worth between $5.5 million and $6 million with some no-move or no-trade protection. Failing that, he could get similar terms or better in the UFA market.