New Jersey Devils deal Pavel Zacha to Boston Bruins for Erik Haula

The New Jersey Devils swapped forwards with the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, trading winger Pavel Zacha for center Erik Haula in a deal completed less than an hour before the NHL's free agency period opened.

The move balances out the Devils' lineup with New Jersey in the mix to land forward Johnny Gaudreau, one of free agency's top prizes after he turned down an offer to re-sign with the Calgary Flames.

Haula has nine seasons of NHL experience and joins his fifth team since opening the 2019-20 campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 31-year-old had 18 goals and 44 points in 78 games with the Bruins last season and adds a veteran presence to a young Devils lineup.

The trade also provides New Jersey more cost certainty under the salary cap to go after Gaudreau, who finished tied for second in the NHL scoring race with 115 points and is from Salem, New Jersey.

The retooling Bruins get younger in adding the 25-year-old Zacha, who was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft. Zacha has seven seasons of NHL experience and is coming off a season in which he scored 15 goals and finished with a career-best 36 points. He is a restricted free agent and eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.