Seidenberg settles in, for now

BOSTON -- It's no secret the Boston Bruins have played better, especially defensively, since the arrival of Dennis Seidenberg at the trade deadline.

The Bruins acquired the 28-year-old defenseman from the Florida Panthers on March 3 in exchange for Byron Bitz and Craig Weller, and at the time it didn't seem like that big of a deal. But in the 15 games he's played so far in Boston, Seidenberg has two goals and seven assists for nine points.

He enters tonight's game against his former team with a league-leading 211 blocked shots, and his presence in Boston has solidified the back end. Even his blue-line partner, Zdeno Chara, has improved.

"He has been a great addition to our hockey team," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We have seen him for quite a few years now and I have always liked his game. He competes hard and he is an honest, hard-working defenseman. He is physical and he blocks shots. We know what we're getting from him every night."

It's obvious Seidenberg has quickly become comfortable in Boston, too.

How long will it last?

He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and he'll be looking for a big pay day. Seidenberg is making $2.25 million this season, and even though the Bruins are fighting for a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference, it's hard for any player in Seidenberg's situation not to think about the future.

"I've definitely thought about it," he said. "In the time I've been here it's been nice. It's a great hockey town and I'm enjoying the city. The main thing right now is to make the playoffs, but I wouldn't mind staying here. If there's an offer I would think about it because I like it here and I wouldn't mind staying here."

The problem, however, is the Bruins might not be able to afford him.

If the NHL salary cap remains at $56 million for 2010-2011, Boston will have just about $10 million to spend. Of the current roster, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has 13 players under contract for next season, including four defensemen. Recently, Chiarelli gave the oft-injured Andrew Ference a three-year extension worth $6.75 million, which is equivalent to what Seidenberg is making this season.

"You definitely look at it and know where the team is, concerning the cap, but at the end you still just look at the offer you eventually get," Seidenberg said. "If you like it, you think about staying, if you don't, you try to move on. You only get a certain amount of years you can make that money and you can either be set, or not. In that time frame, you have to make as much as possible. There are certain exceptions, but most of the time you've got to go where the money is."

Those exceptions Seidenberg is talking about, of course, is playing for a perennial winner with the chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

"It's tough to talk about right now," he said with a smile. "If you have a chance to win a Stanley Cup, there's always a chance you'll take less. If I go to Detroit, that would be something special. Even here, we have a good chance and a good future moving forward, although the team is pretty close to the cap. It's tough to say. There are so many things you think about once the offer comes, but it's hard to talk about right now."

When asked if he's had extension talks with the Bruins, Seidenberg wouldn't say.

After playing parts of the last three seasons (2007-2009) in Carolina, Seidenberg believed the free-agent offers would come rolling in last summer.

They didn't.

Once September rolled around and teams were beginning training camp, Seidenberg was at home and didn't know where he would be playing and it was beginning to frustrate him. Finally, the Florida Panthers signed him, but his employment lasted only 62 games before he was traded to Boston. Once he arrived here, his transition to a playoff contender was an easy one.

"It was real easy," he said. "The guys welcomed me very nicely. It was easy to get used to all of them, and on the ice it was the same," he said. "It's been real easy."

If Seidenberg hadn't been acquired by the Bruins, he would have been a visitor at the Garden tonight, playing for the cellar-dwelling Panthers of the Eastern Conference. But he was traded and now he's part of a Bruins team that is fighting for a postseason berth.

"Every game is a big game right now," he said. "I can't remember a game that wasn't important for us. Right now, every point counts for us and we have to win every game in order to make the playoffs."

No matter when the Bruins' season ends, it's clear Seidenberg doesn't want to wait around like he did last offseason for a contract. He wants security and would like it sooner rather than later.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes also contributed to this report.