BRIGHTON -- While not fully closing the door, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated the B’s are moving on from all of their unrestricted free-agent veterans on the eve of free agency.
Dominic Moore, Drew Stafford and John-Michael Liles, who performed at varying levels last season, were all going to be hard-pressed to return to a Bruins club that’s skewing younger and more affordable in the salary-cap era.
Sweeney said he’s been in touch with Stafford’s agent to keep that door slightly ajar, but it looks like Moore and Liles will definitely be playing elsewhere. In fact, Sweeney said he already told Liles that the veteran defenseman doesn't figure in Boston’s plans next year.
“[We] haven’t closed out with either” Moore or Stafford, said Sweeney. “We haven’t had a lot of substantive talks with either player, and their parties. We will probably move in a different direction with both, but I’ve certainly had communication in particular with Staff’s group. I’m going to continue to do that today and tomorrow, and see where it goes. I’m just trying to balance out if we’re potentially adding somewhere else, whether or not we want to go anywhere else.”
Of the three, Moore made the most significant contribution last year. The 36-year-old played in all 82 games as the fourth-line center and finished with 11 goals and 25 points along with a plus-2 rating, and was a key asset in the areas of faceoffs and penalty killing. Liles, also 36, finished with five assists and a plus-1 rating in 36 games while also battling the after-effects of a pretty nasty concussion. He stepped up in the playoffs when injuries hit, but the B’s already have six D-men under contract while on the lookout for another top-four, left-shot blueliner via free agency or a trade.
Stafford, 31, finished with four goals and eight points to go along with a plus-8 in 18 games with the Bruins following his trade from Winnipeg, and showed versatility as well as a penchant for scoring in big moments after arriving in Boston. It’s fair to say they got their money’s worth out of the fifth-round pick they sent to Winnipeg for Stafford, even if he doesn't return.