Former Bruins D-man Stuart staying with Atlanta

Stuart

Even Mark Stuart’s trade from Boston to Atlanta a week and a half ago couldn’t remove the veteran defenseman from the trade rumor mill.

Well, today the former Bruins first-round draft pick at least silenced the rumors for a bit by re-signing with Atlanta for three years beyond this season at a cap hit of a reported $1.7 million per season. Stuart, 26, would’ve been an unrestricted free agent July 1.

There isn’t much stability with the Atlanta franchise these days, but now the Thrashers at least know they have a long-term commitment from a solid defenseman with great leadership capabilities. With Boston, he was always considered a potential future captain.

Impact on the Bruins: This doesn’t effect the Bruins, who re-signed Stuart to a one-year deal last summer at slightly less of a cap hit, much unless the Thrashers emerge as Boston’s first-round playoff opponent (although the teams meet one more time, April 2, in the regular season).

But there’s something else to chew on. Would you rather have Stuart signed for three more years at the cap-friendly hit of $1.7 million or Johnny Boychuk inked for one more year at $1.875 million. We know how the Bruins felt about that decision. Boychuk has shown improvement the last couple games, but has regressed this season and hasn’t brought the offensive upside you’re supposed to get from him.

We’ll know more about the type of player he is over the final 20 games of this season. Of course, you could throw out the Stuart/Boychuk debate and just enjoy having the much-improved Adam McQuaid under contract for a sweet $575,000 next year in addition to this season. Now that’s a bargain.

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