BOSTON (CBS) — Simon Gagne has 12 goals and 19 points in 25 career games at TD Garden. Now the veteran forward will try to add to those totals as a member of the home team in 2014-15.
Gagne figures to be a long-shot to make the Bruins’ roster, but the 34-year-old is going to be in camp next month on a tryout basis. The move was first reported by Montreal-based reporter Renaud Lavoie and has since been confirmed by several local media outlets.
Gagne has always been a thorn in the Bruins’ side. He scored the overtime game-winner that kept the Philadelphia Flyers alive in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bruins in Game 4 in Philadelphia in 2010. He then added the game-winning goal in Game 7 at the Garden. Now he’ll get at least a brief chance to learn what life is like on the other side.
After playing in 38 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Flyers during the 2013 lockout-shortened season, Gagne sat out last season. He’s also been through multiple injuries, including several concussions, over the course of his career. On the Richter scale that measures free-agent moves in the offseason, this is the equivalent of a feather landing on a mattress. But by inviting Gagne — yet another left-handed shot — to camp, the Bruins have just increased the competition for available forward jobs this fall.
There’s no risk associated with this move, and not just because the Bruins don’t have any financial commitment to Gagne. He’s a veteran who has been through the battles, he played for the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2012 and in the past has been an offseason skating buddy of fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron. There’s no way this move will aggravate the Bruins’ solid chemistry, nor will it block the chances of the handful of younger players trying to graduate from the Providence (AHL) farm club or the other lower levels.
When your sentence to “cap jail” is still a ways off from ending, these are the types of moves you have to make. And general manager Peter Chiarelli knows that. So he’s doing what he can to stock up on players while also working the phones in search of a top-nine right winger and trying to break up the logjam he has with nine NHL-caliber defensemen at his disposal.
Chiarelli has to get restricted free agents Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser signed. Down the road he might need to move a package of players to upgrade the roster and bring some cap relief. Should the Bruins manage to pull off the signing of former Boston College star Kevin Hayes, who will become an unrestricted free agent this weekend after turning down the last contract offer from the Chicago Blackhawks, things will get even more complicated.
The odds are Simon Gagne will become a footnote for the Bruins this fall as quickly as fellow tryout Chris Clark did in 2011. With a month to go before training camp though, we don’t know how things are going to play out with the roster, so it can never hurt to have an extra veteran around, even if Gagne winds up mentoring the kids in Providence down the road.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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