JERSEY CITY, NJ - With the NHL Draft on tap Sunday in Newark, NJ (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TSN), General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed media from the team's hotel in the morning.
Chiarelli confirmed that Nathan Horton's camp had told him the forward was planning to go to free agency. Horton is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, when the NHL's free agency period begins.
"Yeah, I was surprised," said the Bruins' GM. "And I respect someone's decision to go to free agency. I think it was a real tough decision for him and his family."
"And I guess I could never say never. Maybe he'll want to come back and revisit it, but the message I got was that he was going to test free agency and wants kind of a new beginning."
In Chiarelli's season-ending press conference, he shared with media that he told Horton he'd like him to come back. "We'll see how it goes," the GM had said.
With Horton wanting to test free agency, Chiarelli was asked if that revelation changed his course of action.
"Well, there's been a lot of rumors about what we're doing and we do have a lot of balls in the air," said Chiarelli. "Cap's coming down, we've got some significant guys to sign. We've had discussions with all those agents and we've told some guys that they can't come back - a character guy like Fer [Andrew Ference] and that - so in this business, you learn to change directions quickly and that's what we're going to have to do."
"Doesn't mean what we have to do has to be done today, but this is a good opportunity when there's the assets right there available with the draft picks. It's a good opportunity to do deals, but we can wait. There will be players that will available in the primary market, secondary market, you just kind of have to pick away."
Horton's line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic was a force when it was firing on all cylinders. Chiarelli addressed their chemistry, but also noted that there's always a way to rebuild lines.
"That will be tough, [to recreate it]," Chiarelli acknowledged to media. "There's obviously chemistry there. There's different ways to look at building your lines. You can - you guys have heard about building in pairs, and maybe that's something we look at other than getting an exact replacement for Horty. But, to attempt to try and recreate the chemistry, that would be hard. You'd like to have a shooter in that line."
Meeting with Lecavalier
Since Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, he has reportedly met with several teams, including Boston.
"I met with Vinny and his agent yesterday evening," said Chiarelli. "With what happened with Nathan, it became a little more ripe. So, we had a good meeting and that's where I'll leave it."
Chiarelli also divulged that Lecavalier would be willing to change position (he's a natural center, with a left shot).
So, is the GM weary with so many teams involved?
"Weary - this is just what happens," said Chiarelli. "I think we've got such a strong core, that I think there will be players that want to come play for us. Now, if we don't decide to proceed on Vinny or he decides to go [somewhere else] - that's not a reflection of him not wanting to win. Just saying, we've got a good strong core and we're going to try to keep this core, and there will be players. There will be players who want to win; there will be shooters that we can fill in on that line."
When Chiarelli was asked by a reporter about the Tyler Seguin rumors, the general manager said, "I've had some discussions with teams on Tyler and I told his agent yesterday that. But, I've got so many balls in the air right now, including the negotiations, that stuff's going to leak out."
"To answer you question, yes, when it leaked out that I had had a couple of discussions with teams, I got a deluge of calls. Then when - the wonder of Twitter I guess - when Horty said he wasn't coming back, then it stopped. So, self-corrected, I guess.
Getting into the First Round
Chiarelli and his staff's years and months of labor for the Draft culminates today. They've been hard at work with scouting, discussions and meetings.
"We finished our amateur meetings this morning, finished our pro meetings this morning. As of right now, we've got a pick late in the second and the rest of our picks," said Chiarelli. "So, it's tough, you've just got to sit and wait, unless I do something to get into the first. I don't know if I'll be able to get into the first. It would be nice, there's some good players in the upper half."
"Good players in the whole first, but kind of more ready-made players in the upper half. Mindset is to see what unfolds and continue to talk to some teams."