The Bruins haven’t officially parted ways with too many of their own impending free agents to this point in the process, but they will be breaking ties with fourth-line energy forward Zac Rinaldo. The winger was told this week that he won’t be back with the Bruins now that his contract is up, and Rinaldo had already changed his Twitter avatar back to a photo of him during his days with the Broad Street Bullies.
The 27-year-old Rinaldo spent all of last season at the AHL level while posting five goals and seven points in 29 games for the P-Bruins, and was a minus-12 on a roster littered with talented prospects targeted for the NHL.
Rinaldo actually never played another NHL game for the Bruins after getting suspended five games for a head shot on Cedric Paquette late in the 2015-16 season.
Rinaldo was going to be hard-pressed to ever live up to the third-round draft pick that the B’s rashly shipped to Philadelphia for him prior to the 2015-16 season, and was never the hard-hitting, fast-skating and penalty-killing fourth liner that Don Sweeney envisioned when they traded for him. That trade still lingers as one of the biggest early mistakes in Sweeney’s tenure running the Bruins, and a clear instance in poor asset management giving up a third rounder for the kind of NHL player that can be found elsewhere at the minor league level.
Truth be told, Rinaldo was never a great fit for the Black and Gold and his agent, Todd Reynolds, said he now hopes to re-spark his NHL career after being told he was done with the B’s.
“Zac will not be returning - the Bruins have made that very clear based on how things have gone in 16-17,” wrote Reynolds in an email to CSN New England of Rinaldo, who finished his B’s career with one goal, three points and 83 penalty minutes in 52 games for Boston. “His goal is to sign elsewhere and rejuvenate his NHL career.”
It will be interesting to see if Rinaldo hooks on anywhere else in the NHL while still due to serve a five-game suspension in the NHL for the hit on Paquette two seasons ago. Rinaldo did play four full NHL seasons with the Flyers prior to being traded to Boston, and there is arguably even more of a place in the league now for players like him that hit hard, skate fast and habitually step over the line with borderline hits.