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Bruins Come Flying Out of the Gates; Signing Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov Early in Free Agency

Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins kicked off free agency bright and early, making good on their promise to be aggressive, a novel concept when you look at a certain team across town, but I digress. One player they had been linked to for some time now was veteran centerman Elias Lindholm, a former 40-goal scorer with the Calgary Flames, who then saw his offensive production dip in the two years after before being traded to Vancouver. Well, they made it a point to go and get their guy on a deal over $54,000,000, but he isn't the only Canuck coming to Boston. Don Sweeney also inked a five-year contract with defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who was a teammate of Lindholm in both Calgary and Vancouver. Here's what you need to know about the two newest Bruins.

Zadorov Scouting Report (Six Year $30,000,000 Deal)

Not quite Zdeno Chara big; they don't come much taller on the backend than the 11-year veteran Zadorov at 6'6 and 235 lbs. While not much of a scoring threat in his career, he has dished out 39 assists over the last three seasons and put up 4-4-8 in just 13 postseason games with the Canucks these playoffs. While both he and Lindholm were moved from Calgary to Vancouver, the Russian was moved much earlier, the final day of November, for the price of a '24 fourth-rounder and a '26 third-rounder. Although it wasn't a secret, he would depart from the Pacific Northwest.

Now, one thing worth mentioning with Zadorov was the amount of time he was off the ice. Taking away the 21 games he played in Calgary, he nearly matched his previous career high in penalty minutes in just 55 tilts with the Canucks (102), and his 125 total penalty minutes would've led Boston last nearly 40 minutes...yeah, not great. Neither was his suspension for a bad illegal check back in Feburary on Lucas Raymond.

Given that he will likely be situated on the third pair with Andrew Peeke, I think you can live with Zadorov having a bit of a mean streak, as long as it isn't at your own detriment, especially to the Bruins' own end. The $5,000,000 AAV to me is OK for a guy like Zadorov, but the six years is a little long for my liking. Granted, that's just the game you have to play in free agency sometimes. Ultimately, I'd say this is a good move simply because it gets another left-shot D-Man in the building.

Nikita Zadorov Signing Grade: B+

Lindholm Scouting Report (Seven Year $54,250,000 Deal)

Like just about everything we predicted with some of the top forwards, we were wrong on Lindholm, who did indeed sign with the Bruins mere minutes into free agency, per Darren Dreger. The offensive production he's put up dating back to the last two seasons made me a bit trepidatious about signing him, as was the fact he was a -14 throughout the ''23-'24 campaign, but let's talk positives here, starting with his ability taking faceoffs. There were only nine players last season with over 750 faceoff wins and a win percentage of over 55%. That list is (in order from 1-9) Sidney Crosby, Vincent Trocheck, Anze Kopitar, Leon Draisaitl, J.T. Miller, John Tavaras, Jordan Staal, Nico Hischer, and Elias Lindholm. I'd call that pretty good company.

Adding Lindholm also forces a lot of notable movement in the top half of the Bruins forward group. Realistically, you could be looking at Zacha-Lindholm-Pastrnak up top and then Marchand and Coyle on the second line, but what they do at right-wing there and beyond is a bit unclear, but you're set with your left wing-center combos three lines deep right now as I see it (add in Trent Frederic-Matt Potrais on L3). I think there's a high likelihood that this Lindholm deal starts to age badly once you get beyond year three, but there are some salary cap jumps upcoming, and you can sell me on the idea that he's going to be better in Boston than he was in either Vancouver or Calgary last season.

Lindholm Signing Grade: B

Thoughts on the Ullmark Trade

Since it is actively hurting the Bruins' chances of adding another offense piece as we speak (given that they somehow haven't extended Jeremy Swayman yet), I don't think it's unfair to give Don Sweeney an F for the Ullmark Deal. To have to eat the Joonas Korpisalo contract for no real reason and not come away with anything better than the 25th pick is a catastrophic failure. Shane Pinto wants out depending on who you listen to, and Ottawa was making it known clear as day that Jacob Chychurn, who's now a Washington Capital, was available. Just a terrible deal, which doesn't even factor in that it was inside the division.

Ullmark Trade Grade: F-

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