Boston Bruins

Eric Canha/CSM/AP ImagesSimon Gagne, center, is hopeful that he can slot in to a top-six role for Boston in 2014-15.

It started with a conversation this summer between Patrice Bergeron and Simon Gagne. The two played in a charity game together, and Bergeron liked what he saw from Gagne. He saw the smarts and some of the speed that led to 288 regular-season goals in nearly 800 games.

Sure, it was only an exhibition, but it was enough to spark an idea.

“I’d seen him a few times over the summer. We’re from the same town. On the ice, he looked the same to me,” Bergeron said. “It’s hard to tell sometimes in the summer.”

So, they chatted. Bergeron asked Gagne how he felt. He asked him what his plans were, if he definitely wanted to play, if he had any other offers. He was gathering information, information he’d eventually pass on to Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Bergeron, as it turns out, is a good guy to know.

“I don’t do that often, but Peter is the kind of guy who is open; if it can help, why not?” Bergeron said. “I just kind of mentioned that he was skating, looked good, kept in shape and was looking for something.”

As were the Bruins.

Boston remains the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, but it’s not without question marks, most notably down the right side of its forward group. A little more clarity came on Monday when the team released Ville Leino from his tryout, and convinced Reilly Smith to take a one-year deal below market value to squeeze under the salary cap.

Signing Smith and Torey Krug at such reasonable numbers means the Bruins …read more