BRIGHTON, Mass – It looks like the Bruins may have to wait until after July 1 if they want to retain hard-hitting fourth liner Noel Acciari.
B’s general manager Don Sweeney confirmed with reporters on Friday afternoon that the Bruins made an offer to the 27-year-old Rhode Island native to keep him in the Boston fold ahead of unrestricted free agency. The offer obviously wasn’t accepted by Acciari’s camp and he’s set to hit the free agent market on Monday with an expectation of robust interest in a player that plays hurt, plays hard and plays to win on a team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Acciari averaged eight goals and 12 points over the last two seasons and played in a career-high 72 games this past season while playing through a broken sternum in the Stanley Cup playoffs. So he’s obviously hitting the market at the right time and the Bruins are taking a similar approach to Tim Schaller hitting unrestricted free agency a year ago.
They’d love to sign him, but they probably can’t match what he’s going to get on the open market.
“We’ve extended offers to Noel prior to the interview period. We’ll continue to,” said Sweeney. “We’d like to have him back. Noel has put himself in a good position and he’s going to hear what’s out there around the league, and what’s best for him.”
There was no word on the term for any of Boston’s offers, but one would guess it to be a shorter term deal (one or two years) in the $1 million range they are currently paying Joakim Nordstrom. If Acciari is offered anything close to the two-year, $3.8 million deal that Schaller signed with the Vancouver Canucks a year ago then he’s likely to be headed to another NHL locale.
The Bruins would certainly be okay on their fourth line next season if it were Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner skating together, but there’s also no denying they would miss Acciari’s hard-hitting, heavy style of play and eager willingness to sacrifice his own body for the team. Likewise the former Providence College captain didn’t sound like a guy that wanted to leave Boston during Bruins breakup day earlier this month.
“I love all of these guys. They are my family. I had a lot of fun with them this year. It’s a bitter ending, but we had a great locker room and a great coaching staff,” said Acciari, who is coming off a deal that paid him $725,000 in each of the last two seasons. “I’d love to come back to Boston. I love all of these guys. I love everybody here. This is all I know.
“We’ll see what happens going forward. You can’t predict anything. Boston has it all. I’m a local guy. I’m not just saying it. I’ve lived it. This is a special, special place. I’m looking for this family [in my next contract]. I’ll take my time and see how things go. But Boston has been my home for my entire life.”
The hunch here is that Acciari will sign somewhere else on July 1 for more money, but never discount a New England kid’s willingness to stay for less when it comes to the Bruins.
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