Boston Bruins Offseason Notebook: B’s Increase Depth With Addition Of Veteran Defenseman Garnet Exelby

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On Wednesday afternoon the Boston Bruins increased their organizational depth, adding former Atlanta Thrashers’ defenseman Garnet Exelby. The two sides agreed to a new one-year, two-way contract worth a total of $600,000 at the NHL level and $130,000 for American Hockey League service.

The Craik, Saskatchewan native was originally drafted by the Thrashers in the eighth round (217th overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He would go on to spend the next seven seasons of his career in the Atlanta organization, appearing in 357 games for the now-defunct franchise, scoring six goals and adding 40 assists. A rough-and-tumble style and tendency to deliver bone-jarring hits from time-to-time made Exelby a fan favorite in the Atlanta hockey community. In 2004, Exelby became the inaugural recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Award, which is given each year to the Thrashers’ (now Jets’) player who “best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.” The award was created in memory of former Thrashers’ forward Dan Snyder, whose life was tragically taken at the age of 25 in a single-vehicle accident in September of 2003. Other notable names who have won this award include Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater, Bryan Little and most recently, former Boston blueliner Mark Stuart.

In the summer of 2009, Exelby was traded to Toronto – along with Colin Stuart – in exchange for Pavel Kubina and Tim Stapleton. Exelby skated in 51 games with the Maple Leafs during the 2009-10 season where he recorded four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and 73 penalty minutes. After the season, Exelby decided to join the New York Rangers organization, but was released at the conclusion of training camp. Soon after, he would ink a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks and was immediately assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. He would serve as captain in Rockford during the 2010-11 season, picking up three goals and chipping in with ten assists while collecting an incredible total of 128 penalty minutes.

Last season was a remarkable campaign for the 6’1”, 215-pounder. In 75 games with the Detroit Red Wings’ farm squad, the Grand Rapids Griffins, Exelby set career highs in goals (seven), assists (14), and points (21). On Wednesday, the hard-nosed rearguard opted to cash-in on his impressive season in the AHL by signing a new one-year deal with the Black and Gold.

In 408 career NHL games, Exelby has scored seven goals and added 43 assists while accumulating a grand total of 584 penalty minutes.

The 30-year-old veteran should compete for a roster spot in Boston out of training camp in September, but will likely begin the year with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. The signing seems to indicate general manager Peter Chiarelli’s proactive approach to replacing longtime P-Bruin defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk, who recently left the organization by way of a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings. If nothing else, Exelby  – much like newly-signed centerman Christian Hanson — provides the Bruins with another capable NHL body ready to step in if the injury bug strikes.

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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Michigan Fan. Street Hockey Agitator. My work has been featured at the New England and New York Hockey Journals, The Hockey Guys, and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com!

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