The Boston Bruins made a strong addition in NHL free agency with the signing of right winger Craig Smith, and they did it with a little help from one of the team's best players.
Patrice Bergeron spoke to Smith on the phone and helped convince the veteran forward to join the Bruins. Smith reportedly had several teams interested in his services, including the Ottawa Senators, before he decided on a three-year, $9.3 million contract with the B's.
"We spoke. I have a lot of respect for (Bergeron), especially his game. I don't know him personally. It was the first time that we had talked," Smith said during his introductory Bruins conference call Saturday.
"But the way he discussed his team and where they're at, and the manner that he carried himself throughout the phone call was impressive to me. As a player, I've played a little while now, and it's definitely attractive to hear a guy talk about his team like that and how much passion he has for the city and the love he has for his teammates. That's something I want to be a part of."
One of the responsibilities of team leaders and elite players is to help recruit free agents in the offseason, and it sounds like Bergeron did an excellent job explaining to Smith why Boston is a special place to play.
The Bruins entered free agency needing to upgrade their secondary scoring, particularly on the wing. Smith has scored 20-plus goals in five of the last seven seasons and drives puck possession at a high rate during 5-on-5 play. He should be an excellent fit on the third line with center Charlie Coyle, and he's also an option for the second line next to center David Krejci.
Boston now has about $12 million in salary cap space after the Smith deal to fill out the rest of their roster before next season.