|Chiarelli: Stuart gives B’s ‘size, strength, character’||07.09.10 at 2:08 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart was about as humble and agreeable as possible on Friday in accepting his one-year contract extension for next season.
After general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team had re-signed defenseman, Stuart spoke of wanting to forget about the way the playoffs ended while looking forward to the young, talented core the team is building.
Stuart, 26, is a veteran of 252 NHL regular season games and has 12 goals, 23 assists for 35 points and 261 penalty minutes in those contests. He also has 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games, with two career assists in those 22 games.
The contract is a one-year, $1.675 million pact, a raise from the $1.3 million he made the past two seasons.
Stuart chose against filing for arbitration because negotiations with the Bruins had been encouraging. Stuart said Friday during a conference call with reporters that he’s open to playing this one season with the hope of something better down the road.
“I’m very excited about the deal,” Stuart said. “I expected after the season that I had if I was going to get a deal it was going to be a one-year deal and then see how I played. Hopefully, I can have a great year this year and then hopefully, yeah, a long-term deal is in the future.”
The Bruins now have just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapGeek.com. The team still has yet to reach agreements with first-round pick Tyler Seguin and restricted free agent forwards Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the latter two of whom filed for arbitration.
Last season, Stuart played in 56 games for the Bruins, with two goals and five assists. He was sidelined for 26 regular season games and eight postseason contests with a broken left pinky finger and a subsequent infection within that finger.
During his 2008-2009 campaign, Stuart set career highs in goals, assists and points as well as tying his career high in games played, with five goals and 12 assists in 82 games.
“He was okay with the one year. To the point of building onto something more, we have more flexibility, too, next year,” Chiarelli said. “If you remember before he hurt his hand against LA, he was starting to play more minutes. He was actually coming along pretty good. It’s size, strength, character. Now, we’ve got, between him, Dennis [Seidenberg], Z [Zdeno Chara] and Johnny [Boychuk], we’ve got some big strong guys.”