BUFFALO – There are pressing concerns for the Bruins this summer. Most important is landing the transitional defenseman that was missing from the B’s defense corps last season, and Don Sweeney is also pushing contract talks ahead with Loui Eriksson and Torey Krug with contracts expiring for both key players.
But Sweeney made sure to also stress on Friday afternoon that inking left winger Brad Marchand to a contract extension was also a front burner priority for the Bruins once a deal can officially be signed starting on July 1. That’s good news given that the price keeps going up for a player routinely been among Boston’s leading goal-scorers every year since coming into the NHL, and exploded for a team-leading 37 goals last season.
“We’re going to look at Brad right away…early on here in the process once we get past that first wave in July,” said Sweeney, while addressing the Bruins media at the Buffalo Courtyard Marriott on Friday afternoon amid the NHL Scouting Combine. “We’ll have some good discussions. We’d prefer that we’re tracking on the earlier side of things. He’s a big part of our hockey club.”
Coupling the giant season with the cachet that goes along with winning a coveted spot on the Team Canada World Cup roster, the price just keeps going up for a B’s agitator that’s starting to transform as a player.
“I think being part of a team like [the World Cup] is on a different level. People may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that,” said Marchand. “Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well.
“But that’s not why I play the game — I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game, so however they feel, then that’s their opinion.”
A 6-7 year contract north of $6 million per season would seem the starting point for a guy that’s been better than an “OK player” while serving productively as Patrice Bergeron’s partner-in-crime for the last six seasons.
One thing there’s no doubt about: Marchand had a career-changing year while scoring a career-high 37 goals, taking a step up in the leadership department and bringing the effort, focus and intensity every single game. Marchand also showed a developing maturity to his game when he apologized publicly for a hit that got him suspended for the Winter Classic against the Canadiens, and was always accountable in the postgame dressing room whether it was win, lose or shootout.
He is Bergeron’s longtime wing man, and has the kind of chemistry with No. 37 that can’t be reproduced after six seasons playing together. He shouldn’t be going anywhere, but sounded just as curious as anybody else about what the future holds for him in Boston.
“We’ll see. That’s a little ways away right now, but if the time comes and that comes up then we’ll deal with it then. But that’s not what we’re thinking about right now, it’s more about the disappointment [of the season] right now,” said Marchand to CSNNE.com when asked about his future in Boston at the end this past season. “I obviously love being a part of this organization, this city and this team, and I don’t think this team is done having some good runs.
“I would love to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, but the reality is when you look around the league that it doesn’t happen for many guys. We’ll deal with it when the time comes, I don’t think anybody is going to push it right now.”
Marchand is a guy that’s hard to play against, a guy that always produces and a guy that Bergeron will certainly want riding shotgun with him for his time in Boston. He shouldn’t be going anywhere either, and it shouldn’t even get to the point where this is a question once the new regular season starts in October.