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Draft is First Step in Turning the Page

Sweeney says organization is looking forward to the future

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Fresh off being crowned the National Hockey League's general manager of the Year in Las Vegas, Don Sweeney arrived here on Thursday morning for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Bruins currently have five selections, including the 30th overall pick on Friday night, as the organization looks move on from what was a highly successful 2018-19 campaign that ended with a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"The page is turned. Definitively, [the 2018-19 season] is over with," Sweeney said during a break from the team's scouting meetings on Thursday afternoon. "We have nothing to do but look forward. We're proud of what happened, but it is about moving forward from here on out. All of our discussions have nothing to do with that, other than what we can learn from. We're not living there, we've got to move forward."

That is exactly what Sweeney will do during this weekend's draft as he looks to stock the Bruins' system with more assets for the future. Sweeney noted that as of now he is intending on making the team's first-round pick, while also acknowledging the possibility for some movement if the right deal presents itself.

"I've had conversations over the last seven days about moving in different directions," said Sweeney. "We're in meetings now, obviously we have until tomorrow. Might even be during the draft…we've had the discussions. We're just planning that we're taking our pick. But I certainly put things in motion that if someone wanted to move in a different direction then we may as well."

Bruins Draft Order
1 30th
2 None
3 92nd
4 None
5 154th
6 185th
7 192nd (from NYR)
Round Overall

After selecting defensemen with the team's first pick in each of the last four drafts - Jakub Zboril in 2015, Charlie McAvoy in 2016, Urho Vaakanainen in 2017, and Axel Andersson in 2018 (second round) - Sweeney said that ultimately his philosophy this weekend will be identifying the best players available, despite their positions.

"Certainly we identified some areas of need and areas of depth…try to deal from a position of strength…we never want to pass up on who we think is the best player," said Sweeney. "Have we done it 100 percent correctly? Maybe not. Hindsight is 20-20 in that regard. But overall, we've attacked the areas of the organization that we think we need to strengthen.

"We continue to do that, identify what the trends of the league are and find the balance. Sometimes you get through the regular season and it's a different animal in the playoffs. Depth is very important. You take the best player philosophically but identify some areas and positions of need."

While it is unlikely any of the players the team drafts this weekend will make an immediate impact in 2019-20, Sweeney is zoning in on areas in which the team can improve upon as the Bruins look to sustain the success they have had each of the last two seasons.

"It's hard to just pick one thing, realizing how close we were," said Sweeney. "We take a lot of pride in what our players sacrificed to get us to that point. There are areas we need to continue to address, not just this year, but moving forward. That's the challenge around the league, it's parity, the margins are so very, very small."

The NHL Draft kicks off on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Video: Sweeney speaks a day before the 2019 NHL Draft

Wait, There's More

Some other notes from Sweeney's media availability: 

  • Zdeno Chara had a procedure on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his elbow "that were fairly significant and causing him some discomfort." As of now, Chara and John Moore are the only players having surgery this offseason.
  • When asked about the possibility of buying out veteran winger David Backes, Sweeney affirmed that such a scenario is unlikely. 
  • Sweeney said he has not informed any of the Bruins' unrestricted free agents (Noel Acciari, Marcus Johansson, Steven Kampfer, Zane McIntyre) of any definitive plans regarding their returns or departures.
  • As far as Boston's restricted free agents (Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen, and Charlie McAvoy), Sweeney said, "Those guys will be playing for the Boston Bruins at some point in time next year, it's just a matter of when we find common ground."
  • Sweeney said the search for a top-six winger could start internally: "In a perfect world, you'd go out and find another ideal player. Maybe that was Charlie Coyle, playing on the right wing and adding more production had we gone that route…whether Bruce [Cassidy] tinkers with [David] Pastrnak [and moves him to Krejci's line]…maybe it's Anders Bjork, maybe it's [Zach] Senyshyn, [Peter] Cehlarik, we have internal options."
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