Bruins defenceman Matt Hunwick: No other place but Boston

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BOSTON - Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick has a new deal with the team, and that's what he wanted all along.

"That was the No. 1 goal," Hunwick said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "I told my agent, 'Boston's where I want to be.' It never would have crossed my mind as far as going somewhere else."

The two sides avoided arbitration on Monday when they reached an agreement for a reported two years and US$2.9 million. General manager Peter Chiarelli said the team was nearly at the salary cap, though he is still trying to sign restricted free agent Phil Kessel to an extension.

"We are at a point where, cap-wise, we are coming close to the end. So there would have to be some shuffling, but I'm not averse to that," Chiarelli said. "He's a talented player, a young player. We all like Phil, and we'd like to have him back."

Hunwick scored six goals with 21 assists in 53 games as a rookie last season. But he played in just one postseason game before he had emergency surgery to remove his spleen and missed the rest of the playoffs.

"He proved himself to be an NHL player. He performed well when he had the chance," Chiarelli said, citing a style, grittiness and offensive bent that "allowed him to fit into the mix."

Hunwick, 24, was a seventh-round pick in 2004 and played four years in college at Michigan. He said he is trying to gain weight to be prepared for the season.

"I'm trying to eat as much as possible and get as strong and fast as I was coming into camp last year," he said.