BOSTON – While the Bruins will certainly face some tough decisions with their own free agents as they continue to rebuild a roster based predominantly on speed, youth and skill sprinkled with some size and toughness, B’s general manager Don Sweeney didn’t close any doors while holding exit meetings with players on Wednesday.
“We didn’t make any of that – we went through exit interviews yesterday and really just tried to go through the whole season with guys and where they were at. Then we’ll sit down as a group and make some decisions,” said Sweeney, who also indicated the Bruins were leaning toward the 7-3-1 protection plan for the expansion draft. “We haven’t made any hard or fast decisions on any one individual as of right now. We have an idea for expansion and going forward, but haven’t made any concrete [decisions], didn’t deliver any of that news yesterday.”
Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles and Dominic Moore are all veteran players set to be unrestricted free agents on July 1, and all three had varying degrees of success while finding their way in the lineup at the end of the season when it mattered most in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Stafford had four goals and eight points after arriving on NHL trade deadline day in a deal with the Winnipeg Jets, and kicked in a couple more goals in the six game series vs. Ottawa while bringing size, scoring and experience to the group up-front after arriving.
Liles didn’t play very much until the very end of the regular season when injuries began hitting Boston hard on the back and end, and had five assists and a plus-1 rating in 36 games before notching two assists in six playoff games.
Moore was the most effective of the three finishing with 11 goals and 25 points in 82 games largely on the fourth line, and was a big factor for the Bruins with his face-off ability, his penalty killing prowess and his skill to provide some secondary scoring.
All three voiced a desire to return to Boston, but also seemed to understand that the Bruins are moving ahead with youth as a major part of their reloading process.
It would obviously appear the restricted free agents David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner (arbitration eligible), Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban and Joe Morrow will be of much greater concern for the Bruins, and undoubtedly looking for raises headed into next season.