FT LAUDERDALE – Bruins GM Don Sweeney is ready to improve his hockey club while in Florida this week for the NHL Draft, but he took issue with the notion he needs to execute big moves in order to improve the B’s moving forward. The team missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years, has a roster that’s getting a little long in the tooth in parts and is in dire need of salary cap flexibility, but Sweeney sounded almost defiant when talking about the team’s situation.
“We had a roster that had 96 points and just barely missed the playoffs. If you’re referencing Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille as a big part of our past success, they are certainly losses. But we feel like we have players that will welcome the chance to replace those players,” said Sweeney, when asked if he “needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat” to improve the roster for next year. “With Carl [Soderberg] moving on I think Ryan Spooner looks at that as his opportunity, and I think Alex Khokhlachev views it the same way.
“I don’t know what you mean by feeling the heat. We’re a performance-based industry, so we’ll always feel the heat. Clearly we want to have the best roster we can have, but that might not be built tomorrow, or the next day. We’ll evaluate that in September and going forward. A player has to always look at the attitude of one door closing and another door opening, and internally we have to look at it the same way.”
The chatter behind the scenes would seem to fly in the face of some of Sweeney’s rhetoric. The Bruins are listening intently to trade overtures for Milan Lucic, and have been eying a top four defenseman as part of a return package for the 27-year-old power forward. The Bruins have expressed in moving all the way up to Arizona’s No. 3 overall pick in the first round, and undoubtedly are looking for a chance to land top D-man prospect, and Boston College standout, Noah Hanifin.
They are interested in signing Dougie Hamilton and potentially re-signing Adam McQuaid, but other teams are lining up for their chances both defensemen once July 1 rolls around. But it also sounds like the Bruins are trying desperately not to sound too desperate to improve their hockey club, and finally shed some salary in what’s expected to be a very active draft weekend.
What would really help the Bruins? Perhaps a team like the Coyotes doing business with the Bruins with Arizona GM Don Maloney looking at $18 million in salary required to reach the salary cap floor, and an impact player sliding to the Bruins at the 14th spot in the first round. That might be a little much to ask for this weekend, but Sweeney and the Bruins might need a few more breaks than they realize for a roster on the decline that needs some repairs.