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A Look at Bruins' Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - The Bruins have a number of impending restricted and unrestricted free agents heading into the 2017 offseason. 


David Pastrnak, Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner, and Joe Morrow will become restricted free agents on July 1, while Dominic Moore, Drew Stafford, and John-Michael Liles will become unrestricted free agents. 


In General Manager Don Sweeney's season-ending press conference, he said that he had not yet informed the impending free agents of any decisions. 


"We didn't make any of that - we went through exit interviews and really just tried to go through the whole season with guys and where they were at and then we'll sit down as a group and make some decisions," said Sweeney. "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, didn't deliver any of that news [during interviews]."


When the players met with media for their final availability of the 2016-17 season, all of the above players spoke about their contract situations heading into the offseason. 


Restricted Free Agents


Pastrnak is among the five impending RFAs for the Bruins this offseason. During Pastrnak's season-ending availability, he described the experience of his first-ever Stanley Cup Playoffs experience. 


"I loved it," said Pastrnak, who put up 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points in his third NHL season and first full-time season. "It hurt, but every win felt unbelievable. It was a great experience for me and hopefully in upcoming years, we will have that feeling more than we did this year. You can't even describe the feeling after you win in the playoffs."


The 20-year-old winger is set to become an RFA on July 1. 


"Obviously I love it here," said Pastrnak. "This is where I started and where I get the opportunity to play NHL, you know. Obviously this is not something I was focusing on all season, so I'm not going to think about it now."


"If it was up to you, would you be back?" a reporter asked Pastrnak. "100 percent," he responded. 


In addition to Pastrnak, Acciari, Schaller, Spooner, and Morrow all expressed similar sentiments. 


Acciari just finished up his second year with the organization, played 29 games with Boston in 2016-17.


"It was a good feeling," said Acciari, of getting back up with the big club. "It was unfortunate at this point ending as a team, obviously, we wanted to go further than we did, but for myself it was good to see. I gained some confidence in the last games that I was playing, and felt a lot more comfortable out there, and realized that I can play out here."


Schaller, as a New Hampshire native, enjoyed his season playing in front of family, friends, and hometown fans. 


"Personally, it was a good year," said Schaller. "I set a goal to try and play in the NHL for a whole season, and luckily, I was able to get that. I think I had a pretty good year, but I still think I can get stronger and better. So, hopefully next year, I can get another full season in the NHL."


"I'd love to stick around," said Schaller. "But that's talks to be had soon here, so we'll see."


Spooner spoke about not having the best end to his season, and now shifting his focus to building offseason strength. 


"I've been here since I've been 18, so it's been a long time and I just want to help out," said Spooner. 


"I definitely didn't play to the top of my game," Spooner said of his postseason. "I would have liked to score. I don't think I scored in the last 20 games or something like that, so that definitely would have helped."


"I just need to be better than the last little bit of the season," said Spooner.


As for Morrow, the defenseman only slotted in to 17 regular season games, but got an opportunity to suit up in five playoff games due to injury. 


"It's going to be a very good defensive corps and I'd love to be part of it," said Morrow. "You see that when you lose that caliber of defenseman at the time of year and you have guys step up and do their part, it kind of foreshadows the future of what this team has in store."


"The defense has always been the passion of the Bruins and I think it's got a good chance going forward."


Unrestricted Free Agents 


Along with the RFAs, the Bruins have three impending UFAs, including Moore, Stafford, and Liles. 


Moore played all 82 regular season games and six playoff games for the Bruins in 2016-17, putting up 11 goals and 14 assists, and providing a consistent presence all season. 


"It was a very enjoyable season for me to be a part of this group," said Moore. "Good group of players, great leadership - especially with this group between Zee and Bergy and Krech and Marchy. I mean, these guys are as good as it gets when it comes to leadership."


"So it was an honor to be a part of that and we'll see what happens going forward, but I enjoyed my time for sure and we'll see what happens," said Moore. 


Stafford came to the Bruins at the trade deadline from Winnipeg. 


"Overall, extremely positive," Stafford said of his experience. "Everyone in here, it's a lot of great people here and teammates, management, coaching staff, everything is definitely positive."


"Absolutely," said Stafford, of hoping to come back to Boston for the 2017-18 season. "If there's any kind of a chance, that's something that I'm definitely into. I know my wife wasn't able to make it out, but we had talked about it a little bit as a possibility and that's something that obviously Sweens and my agent, if they feel like moving forward, it could be a good fit, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."


"But I know the business side of things kind of works itself out that way, but me personally, I loved my experience here and that would be great, but we'll see what happens," said Stafford. 


Liles re-signed with the Bruins for the 2016-17 season after coming over from Carolina during the 2016 trade deadline. 


"We'll see. I've kind of taken it a year at a time. I'm not going to get too concerned with what's going to happen here in the next few months," said Liles. "It was great to get back into the playoffs."


"Obviously, the circumstances for me getting in weren't what you're looking for, guys going down to injury, especially a number of guys going down due to injury," he said. "But, for me, it was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team and I felt good playing there."

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