Kenny Agostino

Bruins moving on from Gionta, Agostino and Postma; Czarnik may hit free agency

Bruins moving on from Gionta, Agostino and Postma; Czarnik may hit free agency

While none of them register as anything remotely surprising, the Bruins have made final decisions on several of their looming free agent players. Kenny Agostino, Paul Postma and Brian Gionta have all been informed by the Bruins that they won’t be offered contracts for next season, according to B’s general manager Don Sweeney, and so that ends their stint with the Black and Gold.

“We’ve had some preliminary talks with all the [free agent] players, and just trying to sift through the term aspect in some of those conversations,” said Sweeney to reporters at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo. “All those players have indicated they felt they fit in well with our hockey club and I’ve attested earlier I think they did as well. It’s unrealistic that they will all be back.

“Postma, Agostino and Gionta will not be offered contracts and they’ve been told as much. We’ve had discussions with Austin [Czarnik] and I think that he’s intrigued by what may exist elsewhere. We certainly haven’t closed the door [on Czarnik] and I don’t think he has as well.” 

Postma and Agostino were both signed as free agents on July 1 a little less than a year ago as depth players that could potentially fill in at the NHL level if injuries or youthful ineffectiveness impacted the team. The 29-year-old Postma managed to get into just 14 games for Boston this season amid long stretches as a healthy scratch and was essentially bypassed on the depth chart by Matt Grzelcyk during the season. 

The 26-year-old Agostino got into five games for Boston without much of an impact when injuries hit in the first few months of the season, and posted 16 goals and 53 points in 64 games for the P-Bruins last season. Once rookies Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk locked down winger spots early in the season, there wasn’t going to be much of a chance for Agostino to show what he could do at the NHL level. 

The 39-year-old Gionta signed with the Bruins at the NHL trade deadline after skating for Team USA at the Winter Olympics and was good enough as a depth piece scoring two goals and seven points in 20 games for the Black and Gold. It was, however, clear that Gionta’s effectiveness waned as his playing time increased, and the small winger really didn’t have much to give Boston in the playoffs when Bruce Cassidy gave him a shot in the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Sweeney left the door open for 25-year-old free agent center Auston Czarnik (25 goals and 69 points in 64 games for the P-Bruins last season) as well, but it sounded like the Bruins prospect was going to at least play things out through free agency to see what kind of offers might be out there for him. Aside from those players mentioned, it sounds like no decisions have been made with pending UFAs like Anton Khudobin, Rick Nash, Riley Nash, Tommy Wingels and Nick Holden as cursory discussions on new contracts have taken place.     

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Szwarz next in line of Bruins' call-ups amid injuries

boston-bruins-jordan-szwarz-110117.jpg

Szwarz next in line of Bruins' call-ups amid injuries

BRIGHTON, Mass – With Kenny Agostino sent down after a five-game stint with the Bruins, the B’s will get a look at another one of their more experienced Providence forwards with the call-up of Jordan Szwarz.

MORE BRUINS

Szwarz, 26, leads the P-Bruins with five goals. He's totaled eight points and a plus-7 in six games with Providence after busting out with 22 goals and 54 points last season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Burlington, Ontario native has appeared in 35 career NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, totaling four goals and 21 penalty minutes, and, perhaps more important, provides the B’s with a right-shot forward that can play center or right wing in David Backes’ absence.

“We’re running out of right shots,” admitted coach Bruce Cassidy. “He can play both center and right wing, and that’s where we’ll plug him in...where David [Backes] played essentially. He’s played well [in Providence] and he’s had some good chemistry with [Danton] Heinen at the American League level, so we may revisit that a little bit. We brought him in for depth reasons, and this is a good opportunity for him.”

Swarz is looking forward to another NHL opportunity.

“This is a very good opportunity and I want to make the most of it,” said Szwarz, who signed a two-way deal with the Bruins this season after playing on an AHL contract last year. “A guy like me is always kind of waiting for that opportunity, so now that it’s finally come the real work starts now. I have my work cut out now to try to open some eyes and hold onto a job for as long as I can.

“I’m a competitive guy. I’m going to go out there, play hard and finish my checks and do all the little things that you have to do to stay in the lineup.”

Szwarz will hope to do what Agostino couldn’t do after finishing with just one point and really making no tangible impact despite some power-play time and a chance to play the hero with a top-3 shootout spot in Monday night’s loss to the Blue Jackets. Agostino was sent down less than 24 hours later. Now, Szwarz is the next in the seemingly endless revolving door of injuries and AHL call-ups for the Black and Gold.

Zane McIntyre was also recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Wednesday morning and could serve as Tuukka Rask’s backup as Anton Khudobin’s lower body injury “isn’t healing as quickly as [the Bruins] would have liked.” Khudobin wasn’t able to skate at practice Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena after getting hurt Sunday prior to the shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.