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Bruins sign Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorv on July 1st 2024

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Bruins reportedly sign Elias Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov at start of free agency

Lindholm's two-way skills and Zadorov's heft should shore up critical needs on Boston's depth chart.

EDMONTON, CANADA - MAY 18: Elias Lindholm #23 of the Vancouver Canucks faces off against Derek Ryan #10 of the Edmonton Oilers during the first period of Game Six in the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on May 18, 2024 in Edmonton, Canada.
Elias Lindholm reportedly signed a seven-year deal with Boston. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

By Conor Ryan


Don Sweeney was candid on Thursday when asked about Boston’s top needs entering free agency.


“We’d like to deepen the middle of the ice,” Boston’s general manager acknowledged. “So that’s where we’ve been focused to have those talks with our group, to say, ‘OK, who would be the guy?’


And hopefully make the pitch at the right time that we could add a player like that, of that nature. And we’ll continue to look to strengthen our back end and complement the group we have there.”


Given Sweeney’s offseason to-do list, it came as little surprise that Boston reportedly shored up both the center position and blue line shortly after NHL free agency commenced on Monday afternoon. 

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Bruins have signed center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Nikita Zadorov — add defensive fortitude up front and some heft on the blue line.

According to Chris Johnston of The Athletic, Lindholm’s deal with Boston is for seven years and $7.5 million per season, while Zadorov’s deal is for six years with an annual cap hit of $5 million.


This will mark the third team that both Lindholm and Zadorov have played on together — with the duo also sharing a dressing room with both the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.


Lindholm has been linked to the Bruins for some time, with the 29-year-old pivot holding plenty of appeal as a 200-foot center capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways. 


The Swedish pivot has held court as one of the better two-way pivots in the game for the last few seasons — posting four seasons of 50+ points in his career while also finishing second in voting for the 2021-22 Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward.

The 2023-24 season was a down year for Lindholm in terms of his baseline production, especially after getting slotted to the wing with Vancouver. He finished with 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) over 75 games, but did elevate his play in the postseason (10 points in 13 games) while dominating in faceoffs all year (56.4 percent). 

Given his hefty price tag, there are questions about whether or not Lindholm is really a bonafide top-line center — or more of an effective second-line, 200-foot stalwart. 


But on Boston’s roster, he will quickly take over as the team’s top center — allowing the Bruins to either push Pavel Zacha to the wing or slot Charlie Coyle further down the depth chart. 


He might be more of a 60-point player, but a full season stapled next to David Pastrnak could help Lindholm recoup the elite scoring touch he displayed in 2021-22 with Calgary (42 goals, 82 points). 

While Lindholm will provide more refined, two-way player up front for Boston, Zadorov will land plenty of welts on the back end.


The 29-year-old Zadorov is an already imposing figure at 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds — and sure plays like it. 


The Russian-born blueliner is one of the most physical players in the league, posting six seasons with at least 175 hits on his resume. Zadorov played arguably his best hockey for Calgary and Vancouver in 2023-24 — scoring six goals and 20 points over 75 games while landing 177 hits and 68 blocks. 

He further elevated his stock during the postseason for the Canucks — scoring four goals and eight points over 13 games while clearing opposing skaters out of Grade-A ice.

Zadorov rounds out the left side of Boston’s defense alongside Hampus Lindholm and Mason Lohrei, although it remains to be seen whether or not the Bruins envision him as more of a third-pairing regular or a possible top-pairing partner next to Charlie McAvoy. 


With Lindholm and Zadorov accounting for a combined $12.75 million cap hit, the Bruins might have to dive in the bargain bin for more scoring help this offseason — with a majority of their remaining camp space likely allocated toward Jeremy Swayman’s pending pay raise. 

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