Bruins give Marchand $4.5M per year

The Boston Bruins on Friday signed forward Brad Marchand to a four-year contract worth $18 million (an average of $4.5 million per season), the team announced. The deal kicks in after the 2012-13 season and keeps him in Boston through 2016-17.

"I just want to thank the Jacobs family and the Bruins organization for allowing me the opportunity to be part of the team for this year and four more years," Marchand, who couldn't be on a conference call with reporters because he's on a hunting trip with his father, told the Bruins website. "It's an honor to be part of this organization and I'm very excited for what the future may hold for the Bruins.

The 24-year-old Marchand is coming off his second season with the Bruins, in which he registered 55 points on 28 goals and 27 assists. He had 41 points in his rookie season (2010-11), when he established himself as a key agitator and clutch scorer in helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.

"His style of play, his persona, his timely goals and his amount of goals bring a great component to the Bruins and the Bruins organization," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a conference call with the media Friday. "It's nice when you sign players to an extension -- and yes you say a lot of nice things about the player when you do -- but it's nice when you can sign a player like Brad who has worked his way up through the organization and plays the way we all enjoy watching him play. As a general manager you enjoy watching him play that in your face game. He sacrifices his body and he's really coming into his own as an offensive player."

Marchand, who will make $3 million this season in the second year of a two-year pact he signed just before camp last September, would have become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Starting next season, Marchand will be the third-highest-paid forward on the team, behind only David Krejci ($5.25 million) and Patrice Bergeron ($4.55 million). Marc Savard is under contract to make $5 million next season, but he hasn't played since January 2011 and is unlikely to suit up again because of ost-concussion syndrome.

The deal comes as the NHL and NHLPA prepare for a potential lockout. The deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement is Sept. 15. The regular season is slated to begin on Oct. 11.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.