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Boston Bruins Conference Call Quotes; Tuesday, June 30, 2015

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY MEDIA AVAILABILITY AT 11 A.M.

On given what happened over the weekend, how important it is to head into free agency with the hopes of getting something done…
Well, Joe, a lot has transpired over the last little while and we’re now entering free agency with the intent to try and improve our hockey club. It’s never an easy process in the free agent market, but we’re going to look at every different opportunity to try and do that. We set ourselves back in a position now where we have a little bit of cap flexibility, which was paramount in the whole exercise.

On what it has been like for him these last few days, with the heat on him and the organization…
Well, heat is the appropriate term, I would say. I knew going in that the chair would be warm, accepted that challenge, and knew there would be some hard decisions to make. And you know, our staff went about trying to make the best ones and as I said, referencing the fact that we’ve been in cap purgatory for quite some time and wanted to extradite ourselves from that going forward to improve our club hopefully from this point forward and in the future. I think we’ve accumulated a tremendous amount of high quality prospects and we’re going to do nothing other than to continue to improve our club and maybe in the short term, it looks like we took a step back, but we’ve also got five of our six defensemen back and returning and our core group of forwards and some young assets who I think will pay dividends for the Boston Bruins and our future.

On teams making trades and if they’re a position to do something like that today (Tuesday, June 30)…
Yeah, we’re exploring every trade opportunity.

On what made Zac Rinaldo a target, and a third round pick being a relatively steep price to pay for a guy like him…
You now, we pushed the pick out to 2017, DJ, and felt he was a player that, you know, we wanted a little more energy, I talked about playing with a little more energy in our lineup, and it’s ready-made in that regard. He’s a player that’s still young and he plays with a tremendous amount of courage. We need to get him to make sure he finds that line because he’s crossed over it a few times. But he’s got a tremendous enthusiasm for the game, and speaking with him yesterday, was very, very excited about being a member of the Boston Bruins and doing whatever he could to help us win. So you guys are evaluating the prices paid and such, and the rest of us our evaluating the conversations we’re having and what those prices are going to be, so when you find a deal that you feel helps your hockey club, that’s what you’re trying to do.

On if there a skill or un-tapped potential that you see with Rinaldo that he maybe hasn’t done to this point…
Well, we’re certainly hoping that he can continue to move forward in his career. I mean, the skating piece, the courage piece, maybe there’s a penalty killing component to it, but that remains to be seen. Those are all things that you start to - as coaches, I’m sure they’re talking with him and right away they think OK, well maybe we can - there’s more to give from this player than the crash and bang style that he’s accustomed to playing and we’re going to go to work on that.

On if he qualified all restricted free agents…
We did not qualify three players - Matt Lindblad, Rob Flick or Adam Morrison. Doesn’t mean that we won’t revisit, but we were looking at a bunch of different things to explore and that was the direction we went. So we did qualify [Ryan] Spooner, [Brett] Connolly and [Martin] Jones.

On where things are with Martin Jones, in terms of signing him and whether there would be any fear of an offer sheet on him…
Well, we’ve had discussions with Martin’s representatives and we’ve explored some different possibilities with him, so we’ll see where the day leads to.

On David Warsofsky and Paul Carey, and if they are unrestricted as of the end of today (Tuesday, June 30)…
Yes. Yes, they are. They will be both unrestricted, and have had conversations with their representatives and again, they’ve been testing the landscape and we may have to revisit with both those players. Like them both as people and as hockey players.

On if he has had any conversations with Matt Bartkowski, and if he is going to explore free agency…
He’s out exploring. Had conversations with his representatives as well, but I think he’s headed out to the UFA market.

On possibly adding depth on the wing as free agency approaches…
Well, I think that’s something we’re exploring. Clearly, strength up the middle of the ice has been a real asset for the organization from the top two centers that you’ve referenced [David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron], and [Ryan] Spooner — we saw him emerging a little bit last year — and [Alex] Khokhlachev in behind him. Chris Kelly, who has played both center and wing. We signed [Joonas] Kemppainen out of Finland, who’s a big, strong player that is 27, and well-suited to come over and make the transition. Based on his World Championships in the last few seasons that he’s had in the Finnish Elite League, he’ll push for an opportunity. Obviously, we have five or our six D returning, and including Tuukka [Rask] in net. So our strength up the middle of the ice, as you referenced, is a strong point for us, and we’re going to hope that we can look at the wing position, and see what we can explore to find to continue to improve our club.

On whether he will consider signing players to offer sheets…
Well, I think every club has that club in their bag, so to speak. If you’ve got the space to be able to do it, and certainly teams that are pushed up against it, you feel that pressure. So yeah, there’s not a general manager, I don’t think, that wouldn’t look at every opportunity to improve their club. An offer sheet is definitely a possibility from every angle, for every team.

On whether he has interviewed any unrestricted players…
We have spoken to representatives. We have not physically visited, or had players in to Boston, to visit with us, but I’ve been in touch with representatives of particular players, yes.

On whether there is an identity or skill set he is targeting in particular…
Well, I would definitely look at players that have the ability to score some goals, that maybe are sort of jumping into that next level of scoring — they might not have had a full body, or maybe they have had a full body. There’s a lot of players, both in the UFA and in the trade market, that can be explored. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to continue to explore to improve our club, both internally and externally, in terms of evaluating who may be able to jump up. You look at whether or not [David] Pastrnak — what his projection is going to be. If Reilly Smith is going to return back to the year before, and what his goal totals were going to be. Where [Joonas] Kamppainen fits into that. Where [Ryan] Spooner fits. All of the internal pieces have to sort of come together while you’re looking at the UFA market and the trade market, and there’s no guarantees in terms of — even if you’re talking to a free agent — that they won’t turn around and get a better offer somewhere else.

On whether he has discussed trading Marc Savard to another team due to cap space…
I’ve discussed [Marc] Savard with a lot of teams, yes.

On whether trading Marc Savard is still an option…
Yes.

On how he rates this year’s free agency pool…
Well, the supply and demand a lot of times dictates, in terms of a ratings scale. Top to bottom, it might not have the complete depth, but again, these are players that can help your lineup, depending on what your needs are. So again, the price and the rating could climb on a player that fits really well on one team versus not so well on another, and that’s what you have to look at. Every team is looking at players that fit into what they’re trying to do, and as I referenced earlier, we’re trying to get — likely we’re trying to find some players that have the ability to score goals for us.

On whether there might be more trade activity this year than normal…
I do believe that the trade market is one that teams are pursuing, from a hockey trade perspective. I just think that every team tries to look at their own players and possibly re-sign your own players, and when you get in situations, player movement becomes a part of that. Obviously, the cap is a big function of all of this, and at times, makes it more restrictive, but I do believe that, in talking with a number of general managers, the trade market is one that people are pursuing, yes.

On whether the announcement of the salary cap number was a contributing factor to the moves the Bruins have made over the last several days…
Well, it definitely was a factor. We’ve been in an LTI situation for a number of years, and you can continue to live in it. It’s punitive when the performances bonuses hit, as it did a couple of years ago — a little bit this year — so you have overages and situations you have to deal with, and it further reduces your cap. So you’ve got to explore all those things, and you have to have the projection piece. So where these players are going to be in a year from now relative to where your cap’s going to be in a year from now. So those are things that we have to factor in, and they certainly were a factor in some of the decisions we made.

On the plan the Bruins are following as they head into free agency…
I did attack this from looking at cap flexibility and looking at improving our team at some point in time between now and September, and going forward. I think we had to look at some of the situations that we were presented that would maybe put us further behind the eight ball, and wanted to get out from under that. We had to evaluate our own players, and where they were going to stand between now and going forward, and we did some of that as well. We saw a tremendous core group, and we’ve got a number of prospects now that we feel very good about, and I think from that standpoint, you’re setting it up, from a future perspective, as to what some of these deals represented. That piece is intact, and now it moves over to the development role of all of our guys to make sure these guys hit. Obviously, that’s the risk/reward involved in making some of these decisions, and there’s a bit of an element of the unknown as opposed to what the tangible results of a player that you may know now in the marketplace versus what you don’t know what that player’s going to be. That’s part of it. That’s part of the business. But we’re now in a situation where we can sort of continue to plan going forward, as to what our team looks like today, how it can get better between now and October, and forward. And then also, the projection piece as to where some of these kids are going to develop and the roles they’re going to play.

On what you would say to the Bruins’ fans that think that the team is in a rebuild…
No, I don’t think it’s a rebuild. We didn’t strip this down. We have a tremendous core group of guys that are going to obviously carry an even heavier load here in the short term while these other kids can come in and start to take footing. I’ll use [Ryan] Spooner as an example of that last year. I’ve always referenced, Joe, that we need patience in terms of development and also we can’t be impatient in terms of the integration and that’s what’s going to be going forward. We have five of our six returning defensemen. We didn’t strip this down. This was just situations that we’re presented that I felt that we needed to change the course a little bit and a lot of people are looking at it as one or two steps backwards. I look at it like we’re going to try and improve our team between now and September and October going forward as incremental as it may be. But, we are also going to be a team for the future as well. Next week when we get by this time, you go into development camp that’s the excitement piece that people probably can’t see right now to get past this initial onset. We’re going to have a plethora of players that hopefully you and everybody else will turn around and say ‘wow, they’ve got some really good assets and those guys are going to develop into all NHL players’. And that’s the whole trajectory piece that again, it’s difficult as I sit here today for people to sort of understand, but hopefully when we come through this and we still got a very good team and we’re going to continue to get better from now and when the season opens.

On if the master plan changed after what happened at the draft weekend…   
Well, it didn’t alter the plans to the fact that we had to look at our cap situation and prepare for now as well as going forward. That was always paramount in terms of executing what we were doing. Some of the situational things that came up as a result of the situation we were without some of our players. Yeah, that effects how you’re going to implement a plan. Even the best laid plan when you get off the phone with another person can go sideways a little bit. But, you still look at the course of action that we took to the fact that we now have ourselves a little bit of flexibility which I spoke about. Were going to now go to work on continuing to improve things going forward.

On if the team is dealing with any overages this season…
Yes.

On if the overages are from Dougie Hamilton…
Dougie [Hamilton] and a couple other players.  

On an estimate of how much that is…
969,000 dollars.

On what kind of players you are targeting going into free agency with cap flexibility…
Well, all of the above. Clearly the top players, you’re looking at significant salary and term. They put themselves under the unique position that generally dictates that that’s what comes their way. So we’re looking at all of those things. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m going to deliver or promise something because that’s not how it works. We’re looking at, as I said, every different level; either trades or the free agent market to improve our club. If it doesn’t materialize as of tomorrow I’m sure criticism will come again and I understand that. That’s part of the chair that I’m now sitting in. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to improve our team or I’m going to not look at the development piece coming up with our camp and evaluating it. That’s just the situation that we’re in and I’m going to continue to work with our group at improving our club. Going forward we’re going to be in a better situation.

On if you will continue spending up to the salary cap…
Yeah we’ve always been a cap team.

On if there is going to be some competition for the backup goaltending position…
Yes, and that’s healthy.

On if Tuukka Rask is on the market this summer…
Absolutely, Tuukka Rask, not on the market. Not sure where those necessarily come from but I appreciate you asking me so I can deliver emphatically that did not happen.
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