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Draft Notebook: Sweeney Turns Focus to FA

Bruins GM continuing talks with team's free agents

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

DALLAS - With the draft now in the rearview, the Bruins' front office will quickly shift its priorities. Only a week remains until the opening of free agency, leaving plenty of work to be done over a short amount of time.

"We have some RFAs in [Sean] Kuraly…other players we had talks with last night, this morning, this afternoon, and probably pre- and post-flight [back to Boston]," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said following the conclusion of the NHL Draft on Saturday afternoon. "We're going to continue [talks] and then we go into the interview period [beginning Sunday].

"If we haven't come to an agreement with a couple guys, then we have a couple holes we have to address and we're ready for that."

One player Sweeney knows for sure will not be in the mix next season is Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. The Bruins had discussions with the Russian star - who is returning to North America - after a five-year stint in the KHL - and were reportedly one of the finalists to land the winger's services.

"We thought it was a good fit and it didn't work," said Sweeney, who indicated that the term of the contract was not an ideal fit. "Ultimately, we'll move on to the next one. It was certainly something we wanted to look at and felt that if he was considering our team, it was something we could look favorably upon internally. We didn't get it done so we have to look elsewhere."

Elsewhere might mean a second go-around with Rick Nash, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Sweeney indicated that he has had good communication with the winger, who was acquired from the New York Rangers just prior to the March trade deadline.

"Again, we've had great communication with Rick and his representatives," said Sweeney. "We'll continue to do that and whenever Rick makes his decision for his own future, we'll probably be open to continuing those. The time is in his court and stage to initiate whatever talks he wants, wherever he wants to go.

"I think he strongly indicated that Boston is a place that he would consider, as would we. We have some business to attend to. The timing of his decision may or may not line up, but obviously we'll be in touch with his camp."

Axel-sson

One of the first calls second-round pick Axel Andersson received was from former Boston forward P.J. Axelsson, who is now a European scout for the clube. Both natives of Sweden, the two met prior to the draft during the interview process.

"He called me four, five minutes ago and said congratulations," said the blue liner. "He just said that he was glad…and he just said that I was worth it, congratulations, and talked a little bit about development camp upcoming."

Video: Bruins draft D Axel Andersson No. 57

Czech Connection

With their third-round pick (77th overall), the Bruins selected forward Jakub Lauko, who hails from Praha, Czech Republic. The 18-year-old was thrilled to be joining an organization with several of his countrymen, including David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and last year's seventh-round pick Daniel Bukac.

"I'm [a] big fan of them…I hope that I will be with them [on] the same team in the next years," said Lauko, who shares an agent with Pastrnak. "It's really nice that there are the Czech guys. Even the younger guys, I know Daniel Bukac a lot. We played when we were young, when we were eight years old, so it's nice to meet him in Boston."

Developing Situation

The Bruins have moved up their annual Development Camp this year, with the festivities kicking off on Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena - some two to three weeks earlier than what has been the norm. As such, it will be a quick turnaround to get the five new draft picks into Boston for the start of camp. Sweeney, however, believes that all of them will make it into town for their introduction to the organization.

"We're excited about the opportunity to make picks today and we'll get those kids into development camp…we'll get a chance to evaluate some of them and welcome them aboard," said Sweeney.

"We've tried a different way this year, we'll see how that works. I hope [that all of them can make it]. I certainly hope so."

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