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Canadian Press
8/22/2006 4:31:04 PM

BOSTON (CP) - The Boston Bruins locked up star centre Patrice Bergeron to a $23.75-million US, five-year contract Tuesday, ensuring the restricted free agent will be in camp next month.

Bergeron will earn $4.75 million a season, third-highest on the club behind defenceman Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million) and centre Marc Savard ($5 million).

"Patrice is an outstanding young player with a tremendous future," new Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. "He is an offensive threat every time he is on the ice, has great defensive instincts and he plays a physical game without taking a lot of penalties. With all that he has already accomplished, he will continue to grow as a player and we are very pleased that he will do so in a Bruins uniform."

The 21-year-old led the Bruins with 31 goals and 73 points last season. Bergeron already enters his fourth NHL season after Bruins made him their second pick, 45th overall, in the 2003 draft.

Bergeron, only 18 at the time, won a gold medal at the 2004 IIHF men's world championship in Prague with Canada and a year later during the NHL lockout helped the national junior team to gold while being named tournament MVP.
 

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Boston has made some big improvements. If Tim Thomas can stay as consistent as he was last year then they can definitely make the playoffs.
 
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