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Breaking: Team USA captain Gionta signs NHL contract

Nothing wrong with a little veteran presence heading into the post season. Good signing?

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The Boston Bruins, fresh off the acquisition of former New York Rangers star Rick Nash, have signed veteran forward Brian Gionta to a one-year, one-way contract for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

From the Bruins' official press release:

Gionta most recently served as captain of Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He appeared in all five of the team's games before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Czech Republic. The 5-foot-7, 178-pound forward last played in the NHL in the 2016-17 season with the Buffalo Sabres, where he appeared in all 82 games and tallied 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points. He established career highs in all offensive categories in 2005-06, when he skated in all 82 games with the New Jersey Devils and recorded 48 goals and 41 assists for 89 points with a plus-18 rating.
Gionta has played in 1,006 career NHL games with Buffalo, Montreal and New Jersey from 2001-17, totaling 289 goals and 299 assists for 588 points. The 39-year-old winger has also skated in 112 career postseason games, posting 32 goals and 36 assists for 68 points. The seven-time captain played alongside current Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo with the 2002-03 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils.

With the additions of both Nash and Gionta, it appears as though Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is gearing up his squad for a lengthy playoff run. And, to be fair, it's clear to see why: his team has been the NHL's hottest over the past 2 months. The surging Bruins are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and are just five points back of the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, with three games in hands. Win those three games and the Bruins are tops in the NHL. 

While the 39-year-old Gionta may not add much offensively at this point in his career, there's no denying his versatility and his experience. He could be a very valuable player for the Bruins down the stretch and into the postseason.

Jackets land Letestu in three-way trade

The Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired center Mark Letestu in a three team trade with the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators.

In case you missed it, Letestu was traded by the Oilers to the Predators earlier today for forward Pontus Aberg. Predators general manger David Poile then flipped Letestu to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a 4th round pick.

To summarize:

Blue Jackets acquire: Letestu Oilers acquire: Aberg and a 4th round pick Predators acquire: 4th round pick

The 33-year-old Letestu was one of the biggest names on the rental market heading into tomorrow’s trade deadline, and with him, Derick Brassard and Tomas Plekanec now all off the market, things are getting tight for teams looking to acquire a center.

In 60 games with the Oilers this season, Letestu has eight goals and 19 points. This will be the veteran’s second spin around with Letestu, as he was a member of the club from 2012-2-15. 

Habs trade Plekanec

In a shocking development, the Montreal Canadiens have traded forward Tomas Plekanec to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a package of picks and prospects.

More on this deal to come.

UPDATE:

According to a report from TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Habs have retained 50% of Plekanec's salary in the trade:

LeBrun is also reporting this morning that there were three teams in the running for Plekanec's services, but that the Leafs ultimately stepped up to pay the price:

The 35-year-old center who has played his entire career with the Habs' organization has just six goals and 24 points this season, but was a perennial 15-25 goal scorer for years in the NHL. He's just two seasons removed from a 54 point performance and could find himself reinvigorated playing for a young, fast and uptempo Leafs squad. 

As for the return, the Habs acquire two mid-level prospects in Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev.

The 23-year-old Rychel was acquired by the Leafs from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Scott Harrington back in the summer of 2016. Since then, Rychel has played a season and a half for the Leafs' farm team the Toronto Marlies, but has yet to earn himself an NHL callup. The former first round pick (19th overall in 2013) has 10 goals and 30 points in 55 games with the Marlies this season. His AHL teammate, Valiev is a prototypical shut-down defender. The 22-year-old Russian has five goals and 15 points in 40 games with the Marlies this season.

Bruins land Nash

In case you missed it, the Boston Bruins made a splash on the trade market earlier today, acquiring star forward Rick Nash from the New York Rangers.

The Rangers acquire Spooner, Matt Beleskey, prospect Ryan Lindgren a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick in exchange for Nash.

The 33-year-old Nash was perhaps the biggest trade target on the NHL's open market and with him accepting a trade to the Bruins, it's expected that other trade deadline dominos will fall within the next 24 hours. How does his trade affect the market for other rental players like Vancouver Canucks forward Thomas Vanek or Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green

While he's not the 40+ goal scorer that he used to be, Nash is still a very effective player. The veteran winger has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games so far with the Rangers this season. While it's unlikely that he sees time with the Bruins' top line of Patrice Bergernon, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, Nash seems like a perfect fit to play alongside Bruins #2 center David Krejci.

It's believed, at this point, that both teams have retained salary in the deal, as well. Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reports that the Rangers have retained 50% of Nash's salary, while the Bruins have retained 50% of Beleskey's salary.