BRIGHTON, Mass – One thing that Don Sweeney wanted to make clear in a sometimes convoluted explanation for firing Claude Julien was this: The Bruins are not in the market to trade off future assets for a short term burst this season.
NHL general managers were asking for star right wing David Pastrnak last summer when the Bruins were desperate to deal for a top-4 defenseman, and they’ve been inquiring about young, stud defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as the Bruins look for a forward and D-men help prior to the March 1 trade deadline. In other words, other NHL managers know that Sweeney is under pressure to improve his hockey club and somehow push into this spring’s playoff picture.
“Keeping an eye towards the future, of what the young players that we have [drafted] in the last couple of years, they’re not here and they’re not able to help us today. That’s part of the patience part and example that is difficult – and bridging and understanding the challenges in terms of trying to bridge where our core players are and implementing our younger players. It’s a very difficult task to do. Winning, and qualifying for the playoffs…you’ve got every team in the East is in the hunt, so it’s challenging,” said Sweeney. “You never run or hide from that, the expectations have not changed for this organization. We expect the players to make a push and get into the playoffs. It was the same regard last year, and that was why we added at the trade deadline, because our players had been in position.
“It didn’t work, we fell just short. But I’m also committed, as I said last year, to the draft. I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak to try to find the D that we feel we still need to improve our group and add depth to. We acknowledge all the way along that we have some shortcomings in our roster, and expect either players to step forward and fill those voids, or continue to find the right personnel to fit in with the guys that have won and are looking forward to winning again. There will be an opportunity for players to come in and improve our hockey club both internally and obviously, and the trade deadline represents another opportunity. I’m not going to sacrifice the players that we feel are important and integral to how we get better. But if there is an opportunity to improve our hockey club with a long-term view, then that’s what we will do.”
So it's no great secret that opposing GM's are looking to lure the Bruins into making another short-sighted deal after making more than a few over the last couple of seasons. Sweeney assured all of those at today’s Julien-centered press conference that he has no plans to mortgage Boston’s future no matter what the expectations are from Bruins ownership.
So that means dealing Carlo and McAvoy are non-starters, and it would be hard to believe Sweeney would be willing to move young prospects like Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson or Jake DeBrusk unless it was a star, impact player coming back to Boston.
“I’m not deviating from the plan; integrating, whether it’s Brandon Carlo or maintaining the players that we feel are on the horizon, not necessarily playing here right now, or some of the guys playing in Providence and developing,” said Sweeney. “I’m not deviating from [the long term plan]. I would like to continue to surround and build around our core and strengthen, deepen the talent pool throughout our organization. It something I’ve been committed to and I’m not going to deviate from it.”
Interestingly enough Sweeney said the Bruins haven’t even truly decided whether they’re going to be buyers or sellers at the deadline, and that will be decided over the next three weeks with the B’s mostly sitting and watching – with eight games between now and the trade deadline in three weeks -- what happens by virtue of this season’s quirky schedule.