Another top restricted free agent signed with his current team Sunday when defenseman Charlie McAvoy inked a three-year, $14.7 million deal.
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made the announcement that the 21-year-old would remain with the team, just days after training camp began. When McAvoy got on the ice Sunday, the team greeted him with a stick tap.
"I didn't want that," he said. "I'm just glad to be back. Tomorrow, hopefully I won't get a stick tap and I'll just be one of the guys again."
The Bruins have their first preseason game Monday night at New Jersey.
The Bruins didn't have much cap room, so the bridge deal for McAvoy makes sense for both sides. Boston still has to reach agreement with fellow restricted free-agent defenseman Brandon Carlo and has about $3 million left.
Although negotiations stretched into training camp, which started on Thursday, McAvoy said he never wanted to play anywhere else.
"There's no place I'd rather be to be a part of such an incredible group of men. It's a blast to come to the rink every day," he said. "We have a lot of motivation this year. We have something really special with this group."
The Bruins thought so much of McAvoy when they signed him in April 2017 out of Boston University that they had the 19-year-old make his NHL debut in the playoffs. He held his own there and has developed into a potential No. 1 defenseman.
Paired mostly with captain Zdeno Chara, McAvoy had seven goals and 21 assists last season. He had seven goals and 25 assists in his rookie season. He did miss 28 games last season with various injuries, including a concussion. McAvoy's possession numbers are solid at 54.5 Corsi percentage in his two seasons.
In the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup Final last season McAvoy had eight points in 23 games.
McAvoy said he has a lot to learn, and "the sky is the limit" for what he and the team can accomplish together. The Bruins have posted back-to-back 100-point seasons, and last year they reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.
"My goal is to go out and become the best hockey player I can be. To grow into one of the best defensemen, hopefully in the league," he said. "I plan to push myself every single day. I feel like there's a bit of a window here to do just that."
The new deal will leave him with two more seasons of restricted free agency, and Sweeney said McAvoy would be with the Bruins for three years "and many years moving forward." McAvoy said he wasn't interested in squeezing out the franchise's last penny.
"I don't know if I'm built for that," he said. "I just want to play hockey; that's the thing. And now I get to do that."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.