BRIGHTON, Mass. – Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been in search of a left shot defenseman for the last couple of seasons that could be top-4 material for the Black and Gold. The hope is that they’ve found him in free agency after signing 27-year-old John Moore to a five-year contract on Sunday afternoon that will pay him $2.75 million per season.
Moore, a former Columbus first round pick, finally seemed to realize some of his high-end potential with the New Jersey Devils over the last few years, and finished with seven goals and 18 points in 81 games for the Devils. The D-man topped 20 minutes of ice time per game for the first time in his NHL career and averaged eight goals and 20 points per season over the last three years with the Devils.
The D-man has ideal size at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, certainly has some puck-moving skills and is sort of left side middle ground between a soon-to-be 42-year-old Zdeno Chara and a couple of small, offensive-minded defenders in Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk.
In that sense, Moore could be the bridge between old guard D-men like Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid and some of the younger ones like Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. Moore also gives the Bruins a surplus of D-men with the ability to talk high-impact trades with a prime trade chip like Krug, or at the very least start the season in a position of undeniable strength and depth on their back end.
“The skating component with John’s game. He’s a bigger player. The last two years in the playoffs, really, when you’re running through 10 two years ago, we went through all eight this this year. Brandon [Carlo] hasn’t even had a chance to play in the playoffs,” said Sweeney. “I just think, the makeup of our group, we felt that the opportunity to add a player of that nature fit into how Bruce [Cassidy] wants to play: getting back to retrieve pucks, be able to defend with his feet against faster, bigger, stronger players complements the group we have.
“We feel very comfortable with the group of guys we have, and we’ll move forward with it. When the [trade] calls come as a result, that’s part of the business, and everybody understands that. It also allows some of our younger players to develop at the natural pace without necessarily putting them in situations they’re not ready to handle.”
For his part Moore was excited about getting things going with the Bruins, and could really benefit with a couple of excellent D-men instructors in Bruins coaches Bruce Cassidy and Kevin Dean.
“I said to Don [Sweeney] that [it’s] an opportunity to join a team like the Bruins who I think are really close from outside looking in, it looks like a really close team,” said Moore, who mentioned that his grandfather was born and raised in Dorchester and his dad was also a lifelong Bruins fans. “[It’s a] lot of really good, skilled forwards and a lot of great defensemen. An opportunity to join that and to grow my game and continue to get better is something I just couldn’t pass up. They were at the top of my list for the entire [free agency] period.
“I think in this league you’re either growing or your dying. I pride myself everyday on getting better and growing my game. I try [to do] whatever the coaching staff asks me, whatever role they want and they see me in I try and fit that to a 'T.' Everyone wants to be accountable offensively without sacrificing defense, and at my age I feel like I’m coming into the prime of my career. I want to get better in all aspects.”
Right now, the big picture for the Bruins back end is muddled with too many players for only six spots in the nightly lineup. That situation will eventually resolve itself one way or another, but it feels pretty certain that Moore is going to be part of Boston’s long-range future after inking a five-year contract in his first hours of free agency.