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Augmenting the Pipeline

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

BOSTON -- Despite the B's stated intention to remain out of the free agency sweepstakes that commenced on July 1, the Black & Gold remain on the hunt for players to augment the pipeline.


The free agent signings of forward Christian Hanson and defenseman Garnet Exelby, as well as the re-signing of winger Lane MacDermid and blueliner Matt Bartkowsi were clear signs that the B's look to shore up the system as training camp approaches.

"Well clearly you need to philosophically stick to a homegrown plan," said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney of Boston's approach. "Drafting and developing players I think is the – is the lifeline of National Hockey League organizations in general.

"And I think that you devote an awful lot of time to identifying these players and obviously going through the development process.

"They’re not finished products when you first draft them," he added.

But obviously no NHL club can simply rely on the draft, and when players like Hanson and Exelby hit the market the B's scouting staff and management go to work.

"You see a need, you go out and try and identify it whether or not a player can grow in and fulfill that role," said Sweeney, who thinks bringing in useful players from the outside is also important.

"I think the internal competition aspect of it is really healthy," said the assistant GM of creating depth at every position. "You bring in some players that have gone through other organizations that played in roles that can come in and challenge the current people or if injuries present themselves that generally means there’s an opportunity and that’s when doors open and people step through them and realize that 'Whoa, okay, this kid can fill that role for us.'"

Given the time of year, it's not exactly certain what role, if any, any player will fulfill for the Boston Bruins during the 2011-12 season, and that's exactly the situation players are looking for - a chance to compete for an NHL job.

However, not everyone will get a chance to wear Black & Gold, and the B's hockey operations staff makes sure that any player who shows up to camp has the right make up.

Oftentimes, it's simply a staffer asking himself whether they can see a potential player as a Bruin.

"I think the fact that we’ve been able to maintain our core and guys that want to be a Bruin is a big factor in this," said Sweeney. "You’ve got players that come up through our ranks and want to graduate to wearing the spoked-B and I think that’s healthy as well.

"They want to push through and develop into the player we see them as and with potential they have.

"That’s ultimately what you have to do," added Sweeney. "You have to push somebody out of a job and nobody’s giving anybody anything."

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