Two days after the Boston Bruins players held their end of the season player availability with the media and one day after coach Bruce Cassidy held his, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney took the podium at Warrior Ice Arena to address the media Wednesday. Sweeney spoke on a number of issues and here are some takeaways from Sweeney’s end-of-the-season media availability.
Bergeron’s Decision and Krejci’s Possible Return
Like everyone else, the Bruins front office is sitting back and waiting for a final decision from Patrice Bergeron on his future. If the captain does decide to retire, Boston will be looking for a top center for next season and it could be beyond this offseason before the Bergeron hole is filled.
“We are going to give Patrice as much time as he necessarily needs,” said Sweeney. “You could look at plans B and C and such, but let’s be honest, you don’t replace that type of player and what he means to our organization. That might take years to replace that player in that sense.”
The Bruins depth chart after Bergeron this season? Erik Haula, Charlie Coyle, and Tomas Nosek are all under contract for next season. Jack Studnicka is in the system, but not ready to fill Bergeron’s shoes and his replacement will most likely have to come from outside the organization. They also just signed Johnny Beecher to his three-year entry-level contract, but he too is not ready to step into a top-six spot in the NHL. Could there be a David Krejci reunion? Sweeney addressed it.
“I certainly kept in touch with David and his camp throughout the year,” said Sweeney. “He had hard decisions to make in terms of the promise he had made to his family overall. Just ultimately decided to stay and see it through. I’m sure at some point in time if he decides he wants to return, then hopefully I get a call and we can have a conversation. But I have not gone down that path for several months.”
Pastrnak will join Krejci for the Czech Republic for the remaining 2022 IIHF World Championship in Finland, which is scheduled to run through May 29.
“Knowing how close (Pastrnak and Krejci) are, I’m sure they’ll be some conversation and maybe it filters back to me,” Sweeney said. “I’m sure that at some point in time if he decides he wants to return, then hopefully I get a call.”
Sweeney Addresses His Contract Status
Like some of his players, Sweeney’s contract expires at the end of the season. He said he has been in contact with the organization in regards to his future, but he did meet with several players Monday, including Curtis Lazar about his future wearing the Black and Gold.
“I’m under contract for right now,” said Sweeney. “I’ve had a discussion earlier in the year in terms of the indication of where my path will be and that will be determined in short order.”
Sweeney sounded confident that a deal will get done for him and one of his moves could be finding a way to get a deal done and keeping Lazar in the Bruins’ bottom six, which could be difficult. For someone like Sweeney who is having his contract expire this season, talking with players about their future earlier this week sure sounds like someone who is coming back in his role.
“Just got out of my meeting with Sweens, I think there is interest in both sides,” said Lazar on Monday morning during the players final media availabilities. “I love playing here. I love being a Boston Bruin. The city, the fans, the organization, they have all been great to myself and my family, and I want to be back here. But again, there’s other parts. There’s the business side. I mean, we will see what happens. Sweens said he will be upfront and honest with it, and our people will be in touch. So, we will see what happens.”
DeBrusk’s Trade Request Appears to Still be on the Table
After being a healthy scratch against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 28, word broke that Jake DeBrusk had requested a trade through his agent. It was later revealed that the request actually came last summer from his agent to the Bruins. Sweeney ended up holding onto the 14th overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft and after moving up to the top line with Brad Marchand and Bergeron, he finished the season with 25 goals, two shy of his career-high in 2018-19.
“I don’t think things have changed, other than he’s happier,” Sweeney said. “Because his life improved an awful lot. And he deserves a lot of credit for that. He went out and did perform. Maybe it’s a clearer head space that he defined. Not really thinking about things. Now he might take some time re-evaluate and realize that, I peeked over the neighbor’s yard and the grass is not necessarily greener. My lawn is looking pretty damn good, too.
“Players have their own right. I’ve said all along, I think I know what Jake DeBrusk is capable of. Everybody would like to hold all of our guys to that standard, and to his credit, he went out and performed and played well.”
Five hours before the trade deadline on March 21, the Bruins agreed to a two-year extension with DeBrusk for $8 million. At the time, it was thought of as a move to make it easier to deal him, but that ultimately did not happen. Now, locked up for two more seasons with a $4 million cap hit, if the Bruins are going to move him, the time would be this summer with his contract manageable and he is coming off a productive season with his second 20-goal campaign.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.