BUFFALO — Throughout the hours leading up to Friday’s first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins were allegedly in talks with the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks for help on the defensive end. The prices were undoubtedly too high, and ultimately the Bruins left Buffalo without an immediate upgrade on their blue-line.
“Yeah, in all honesty, it would have taken both first rounders and then some in order to move, the acquisition costs were high,” Don Sweeney told the media Friday night. “I’ve said all along I want to continue to improve our hockey club and do whatever we have to do, but those are a lot like last year where It would have taken all three first rounder’s. So yeah, there’s a balancing act there.”
With blue-line needs at a premium and a handful of teams in hot pursuit of defensive help, Sweeney was not comfortable giving up more than what he felt was fair in exchange for a body that will help a Bruins’ blue line that has struggled the past two seasons.
There was one name that teams kept calling on that Sweeney refuses to move.
“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way. We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through,” added Sweeney. “But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”
Friday’s opening round was rather quiet on the trade front compared to previous years. That increased market value and added price for immediate help certainly had an impact on that.
Although the acquisition prices were high, Sweeney says the Bruins would surely have pulled the trigger on a deal had the price been right.
“We felt that passing on the chance to draft a player of Charlie’s [McAvoy] nature would have been tough. If it had worked and we felt the deal would have been right, we would clearly do any trade,” Sweeney said. “Ownership is committed to spending. We’re a cap team, and we will continue to do that.”
Sweeney and the Bruins continue to talk about the importance of improving the club without jeopardizing the future. Sure, Friday’s two first round picks are steps in the right direction, but they’re not moves that will help the Bruins return to the postseason in 2016-17 after two seasons of missing the Stanley Cup playoffs.
By the sounds of it, it would have taken their two first rounds picks and David Pastrnak to bring in the likes of the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler from the Ducks. If that was indeed the asking price than Sweeney made the right call. But, the second year Bruins GM needs to figure out ways to get creative and make a move that indeed helps the Bruins now and at the same time doesn’t jeopardize the organizations future.
As we draw closer to July 1 and the start of free agency, it appears that Loui Eriksson is heading to the free agent market.
“I had a good conversation with Loui’s group and J.P [Barry] this morning [Friday]. So we will continue to see, obviously the time he can talk to other teams is opening so I am sure they will be exploring that,” Sweeney stated. “We’re in a position where we are going to sign a couple of players like we’ve done all along, but I just don’t whether or not we have found common ground.”
As for fellow unrestricted free agent to be, Chris Kelly, Sweeney will be having a conversation with his camp, and it sounds as if there is interest there in bringing Kelly back for another season.
“Actually going to speak with Kelly’s representative,” Sweeney said about Kelly. “We got great news that he was physically and medically cleared, so we will have a discussion with him shortly.”
Sweeney also noted that he and restricted free agent Torey Krug have had some great conversations and it sounds as if a deal will be reached sooner rather than later.
“We’ve had very good discussions with Torey for a long time,” Sweeney said. “We haven’t found the end point yet, but we hope to be there shortly.”