Team USA captain Brian Gionta is returning to the NHL on a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Boston Bruins, the team announced Sunday. The one-way deal is prorated for the remainder of the season and gives Gionta a chance to go out with a Stanley Cup after falling short of winning an Olympic medal.
The Bruins have been active Sunday in adding veteran reinforcements to their roster for the upcoming stretch run. The team already traded a host of assets for Rangers winger Rick Nash, and now adds Gionta to presumably help fill out depth in the bottom six.
He needed to sign by the trade deadline in order to be eligible for the playoffs. Those two moves add experience to the lineup for a team that’s leaned on various young players this season..
Gionta retired from the NHL after the 2016-17 season with the Buffalo Sabres, but returned to hockey as the captain of the United States’ men’s hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He was also the face of the team as one of the only players with significant NHL experience.
The Americans failed to win a medal in Pyeongchang as they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by the Czech Republic. Gionta didn’t have a great tournament with zero points and a minus-4 rating in five games, although he did lead the team with 16 shots on goal, so it’s not like he was entirely absent.
Boston already has players like David Backes, Riley Nash, Danton Heinen, Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly, Anders Bjork, and Noel Acciari as options for the bottom six, so Gionta will have to compete for playing time. He was productive in Buffalo last season with 35 points in 82 games, but based on what we saw in the Olympics, he might have a tough time making a major impact in Boston.