July 1 marks the opening of the NHL's free agency period and two former Boston College Eagles are already on the move.
Former Boston College star Brian Gionta has signed with the Buffalo Sabres. The former Montreal Canadiens captain signed a three-year contract worth $4.25 million per season.
The Rochester, New York native scored 18 goals, 22 assists and 40 points in 81 games for Les Habitants last season. He registered a 1-6--7 scoring line in 17 playoff games, leading Montreal to the Eastern Conference Finals. In a 13-year pro career spent with the New Jersey Devils and Canadiens, Gionta has 485 points in 776 career games. He was a third round draft pick, 82nd overall, of the Devils in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
Gionta captained the Eagles to the 2001 National Championship as a senior, capping one of the greatest four-year careers in program history. A four-time All-American and three-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, Gionta is the school's career leader in goals (123) and finished second on BC's career scoring list (232), behind only David Emma.
The Sabres needed to spend upwards of $20 million to reach the salary cap floor -- required to participate in revenue-sharing -- so the organization went out and grabbed two solid veterans in Gionta and defenseman Josh Gorges, also from the Habs. Gionta's deal with Buffalo includes a no-movement clause for the first two seasons and a limited no-trade clause in the third year.
Another member of that 2001 National Championship team, Brooks Orpik, is also on the move. The Pens defensemen signed a massive 5-year, $27.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals.
Orpik has spent his entire professional career with Pittsburgh after getting drafted in the first round, 18th overall, of the 2000 NHL Draft. After spending a year with the Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Orpik made his professional debut during the 2002-03 season, making six appearances and registering no points. He's been a permanent fixture on the Penguins blueline ever since. He leaves Pittsburgh ranking first among defensemen in games played (703) and ninth in assists (119). The San Francisco native has served as an alternate captain for the team for the last six seasons.
Orpik joins another former Boston College defenseman Patrick Wey in the Capitals organization. Much like his predecessor, George MacPhee, the Caps senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan played college hockey at Bowling Green under York.