Devils deal Zacha to Bruins as NHL free agency set to open
The New Jersey Devils swapped forwards with the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, trading winger Pavel Zacha for center Erik Haula in a deal completed less than an hour before the NHL’s free agency period opened.
The move balances out the Devils' lineup with New Jersey in the mix to land forward Johnny Gaudreau, one of free agency’s top prizes after he turned down an offer to re-sign with the Calgary Flames.
Haula has nine seasons of NHL experience and joins his fifth team since opening the 2019-20 season with Carolina. The 31-year-old had 18 goals and 44 points in 78 games with the Bruins last season and adds a veteran presence to a young Devils' lineup.
The trade also provides New Jersey more cost certainty under the salary cap to go after Gaudreau, who finished tied for second in the NHL scoring race with 115 points and is from Salem, New Jersey. Zacha is a restricted free agent and eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.
The re-tooling Bruins get younger in adding the 25-year-old Zacha, who was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft. Zacha has seven seasons of NHL experience and is coming off a season in which he scored 15 goals and finished with a career-best 36 points.
In addition to Gaudreau, Colorado Stanley Cup champions Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper and Dallas defenseman John Klingberg headline one of the deepest groups of free agents in recent history. And that’s after Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Edmonton’s Evander Kane took their names off the market by re-signing with their respective teams.
In Buffalo, the Sabres locked up one of their top offensive players by agreeing to re-sign Victor Olofsson to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million. Olofsson, who turns 26 next week, was a restricted free agent and scored 20 goals and a career-best 49 points last season.