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General Manager Peter Chiarelli Free Agency Conference Call Transcript from 7/1

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER PETER CHIARELLI CONFERENCE CALL AT 5:00 PM ET…
On being in a situation where the Bruins couldn’t re-sign Jarome Iginla…
Well, it wasn’t as tough as you would imagine. Today, this was something that -- we kind of rolled out our lineup from the beginning of last summer to know that these are challenges we were going to have. So it was tough from the perspective of losing a player like that who can shoot, and a right-hand shot who’s obviously very experienced and a very good player, a Hall of Fame player. You know, but we’ve had -- the year before, we had a Hall of Fame [player] in [Jaromir] Jagr. A few years before, we had a Hall of Fame player in [Mark] Recchi, or will be. Is he in the in the Hall of Fame yet? I don’t think he is. So my point is that we usually manage to rebound. The process itself was like any other time we tried to sign a player. You start trying to work on it -- for a player on a one-year deal, you try to work on… We tried to work on it right from when the season’s stopped, and we knew there would be challenges, so at the end of the day, I really wanted to try and keep most of this group together, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that to sign Jarome [Iginla]. Those are hard decisions that sometimes you have when you are cap challenged, but I kind of like where we are. We’ve got players signed. You see what the prices were today. We’ll find someone to fill that role, whether it’s someone from within or maybe through a trade . What’s important too is that were able to preserve money and cap space going forward for the likes of [David] Krejci and [Milan] Lucic and [Johnny] Boychuk and [Dougie] Hamilton and [Torey] Krug and [Reilly] Smith. So that was important, too. Bigger picture, it was okay to handle from a perspective of losing a good goal scorer. It wasn’t fun, but you move on.

On where the Bruins stand as far as a possible trade to fill that spot…
Well, we’ve been looking at a couple of things, couple of trades. I don’t know when or if they’ll come down. If you look back historically at us, we generally really haven’t delved deeply into this market other than it maybe being a trade market. Last year, we had Iggy [Jarome Iginla]. Year before was our own guys – [Tyler Seguin], [Milan] Lucic and [Brad] Marchand. The year before, [Benoit] Pouliot. So trades happen. Sometimes, they stretch longer than July 1. I’m in on a couple; I don’t know if they’ll happen, but we’ll keep pecking away at them.

On the implications on the cap after losing Dennis Seidenberg in the midst of the 2013-14 season…
Well, losing [Dennis] Seidenberg was big. The players that increased their roles will benefit as a result in the long run. That’s a little cold comfort now to a lot of people, that we lose that series for a number of reasons, and one of them was probably that. If you’re asking, am I looking for another D? No, I think we have a good group right now, and I include [David] Warsofsky because I believe he’s as close to an NHL player as you’re going to get from Providence. There’s nine defensemen we have -- NHL defensemen -- so we can’t go into the year with nine NHL defensemen. But Seidenberg will be back healthy. [Adam] McQuaid will be back healthy. So at some point, I have to do something there, but I’m in no hurry. It may be that we see how the preseason goes, with who’s mixing who’s matching with whom. To have that defenseman that plays both sides is a luxury, and probably Seids is the only one in our group – [Kevan] Miller plays a little bit on the off side, and Dougie [Hamilton], I think eventually will be able to because he’s got such good hands. I’m not going out to find someone like that because I’m pretty happy with our D, the way it’s been.

On whether the Bruins have an in-house player to serve as a 'plan B’ if another top-tier defenseman goes down in the middle of the season…
As I said, we have nine, so I got to do something. I can do it now. I can do it during the summer. The very latest point is when we have to submit our roster, which is on the eve of – I think we open a Wednesday, so on the Tuesday. You saw what prices were today for defensemen. I’m happy with the D that we have. We have more than enough. I’ve had guys call me for our D from the moment we lost. They want our D. They’re coached well, they’ve developed well, so I’m pretty comfortable with that we have. [We have] to figure out the right formula; that’s what our jobs are.

On whether Loui Eriksson could slot into Jarome Iginla’s vacated spot…
I’m really comfortable with that. It’s a different look, but he’s a very smart player. He’s a great two-way player. He plays a very smart game. I saw him play with the Sedins -- he can play at that level. He can play on the matchup, so… But having said that, he can move down the lineup and he’s comfortable with it. So I mean, the options are there. It would be nice to get a right shot -- that would be a priority at some point -- but I have no problem with Loui [Eriksson] playing on that top line, and I’ve talked to Krech [David Krejci] about it, and he welcomes it. If you watch how Loui plays, he plays a real give-and-go game, and he’s very smart, passes to areas … He’s very compatible with Krech.

On how the lack of a right-shot right wing impacts the team…
We’ve got some right shots that are good for one-timers on the power play, but they’re all really from the defense perspective, whether it’s Johnny [Boychuk] or Dougie [Hamilton]. So I mean, it’s nice. It gives you a little more flexibility when you have someone who can shoot it on the elbow, like on the half wall of the power play, rather than just the guy who’s a passer. But there are different formations you can use. I thought our power play used both the spread and an overload this year, and I think in both cases, you didn’t necessarily need, like, a strong one-timer. We did have it on the right side with Iggy [Jarome Iginla]. We never really had it on the left side, when Zee [Zdeno Chara] was playing in the middle. Torey [Krug] would have had the good one-timer. So we’ve got our one-timers from both sides and we can mix and match, I’m not real concerned -- it’s just nice to have that right shot.

On whether there are any internal candidates to fill the hole at right wing…
That’s the cap world. I know we were under the cap this year for overage reasons, but you’ve got to turn over stuff. You’ve got to keep a core, and you’ve got to turn over players. It’s a testament to the players that we have -- the ones that we have to move out. We’re going to lose some next summer. I just see the numbers, where guys are going, and you have to keep -- players have to keep bubbling up. We’ve seen what happens to other teams, or what’s going to happen to other teams that really have to put all of their money in a certain group. You have to change, and you have to change quickly. Having said that, that’s an accurate observation, and there are a number of players that can fit in that mix. It may be that a guy like [Daniel] Paille gets moved up. It may be that a guy like a Matt Fraser plays the other side. We’ve got – I don’t know if Seth [Griffith] is quite ready; he had a terrific year. It may be that we have to put one of the centermen on the wing, and we’ve tried that with Koko [Alexander Khokhlachev]. We’ve tried it a little bit with Spoons [Ryan Spooner]. It may be that we have to put [Chris] Kelly on the wing and put one of the young kids in the middle. There’s a lot of ways you can look at it. I see four or five guys that are going to vie for two spots, as of right now, and I’m kind of excited about it. I like the way it ended up last year, with the competition, and I’m kind of excited about this year. Again, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking to try and improve our team and to try and find our right winger. We’ve got extra D, we’ve got D that teams covet, so this is Day 1 of maybe 30 or 40 that you try and improve your team.

On whether all of the Bruins’ RFAs were qualified, and how the salary cap being less than anticipated affects the team…
We did end up qualifying Jordan [Caron]. We ended up qualifying Jordan, so that’s all of them. Not really on the salary cap – we’ve got guys signed, but we’ll get them signed. You know, like Torey [Krug] and Reilly [Smith] -- they’re not restricted free agents. They’re called entry-level free agents, so they don’t really have anywhere to go. They can’t talk to other teams. And it may be that they have to play on a one-year deal, and we’ll find money for them at some point. They deserve raises at some point. But it’s tighter. I mean, in general, I think a lot of teams thought it would be a million bucks more, so it’s not that much different.

On Niklas Svedberg, and whether he will serve as the backup goaltender in 2014-15…
I think he’s almost ready, if not ready. It doesn’t mean he gets the job; it doesn’t mean we won’t add somebody at some point to challenge him. His stats weren’t as good as they were last year. I thought he had a terrific training camp. This is a fellow who won the Swedish Elite League championship. He was goalie of the year in the American [Hockey] League the next year. It may be in his mind [that] he thought he was ready to play and start and certainly had a very good training camp. I think for that reason, mentally, he was a little off last year. I think he’s a professional. He’s got areas to work on in his game. What I do know is that our goalie coach is good, our system is conducive to good goaltending. We keep the pucks on the outside. That doesn’t diminish anything from our goalies’ accomplishments, but it can be a better system. You have to be able to find pucks in traffic. But generally, they’re on the outside. Every goalie that we’ve brought in – at least the last two or three – has improved as a backup, and Niklas [Svedberg’s] work ethic is terrific. He’s got some areas in his game he has to improve, but we had calls on him from other teams. He’s certainly going to challenge for a spot.

On if he was actively trying to free up space to sign Jarome Iginla…
Well I’m not going to get in to the details but yes, I was. And at the end I made a decision that – I felt that there were moves I could have made that at the end I didn’t want to make. I thought it was for the betterment of the organization, of the team, not to do it and that’s kind of where it’s stood. I also felt that that we could have done another deal like we did last year, that was discussed. But I felt – I mentioned earlier, we’ve got [David] Krejci coming up, we’ve got [Milan] Lucic coming up, we’ve got Johnny [Boychuk] coming up, we have the two young guys, Torey [Krug] and Reilly [Smith], we’ve got Dougie [Hamilton], Carl [Soderberg]. We’ve got a lot of stuff, these are good players so I have to be cognizant of that, so that is one of the reasons why we didn’t do it and I decided to not make those moves.

On if talks were amicable between the Bruin and Jarome Iginla groups…
Yeah, yeah, I respect Jarome [Iginla], I respect his agent, Donnie Meehan, a lot and I – you know, sometimes there is not a fit for a number of reasons and even – got a nice text from Jarome [Iginla] about a half an hour ago. So I mean, yeah they were amicable. It was no secret it was a good fit here so he’s – Jarome [Iginla] was looking for security and term. I don’t know, he probably would have done a one-year deal with us on those terms at some point but I don’t know. I didn’t want to really jeopardize not being able to resign the other guys.

On if he has any plans to get involved in the free agent market in the next few days…
I’ll look at some stuff. I wanted to let the market settle down and then there are some guys that will maybe take less that I’ll look at. We’ve got seven or eight names on our board and we have seven or eight names that are subject of trade discussion so I’ll look at some stuff and we’ll see where it goes. I don’t know where it will go, often times there is a first wave then the second wave really sometimes doesn’t have them for a week or so. And it may not even be a second wave it may be coming in little signing, small signings. So it’s just a matter of just continuing to go into the market, make your phone calls and see where there is a fit. There are a couple guys that I think would fit with our team so we’ll see where it goes.

On his observations of the first day of free agency…
Well, I don’t know what the totals and the facts have been. Listen, we’re no saints either, we can spend money and we can go out and get deals where I’m sure people are critical of so let me be clear on that. I just know that you have to be careful going into that market and we’ve been very careful going into that market. You saw the numbers of buyouts that have been going on. I did actually see a trend that looked positive in that the term, the general term, was not as long as I would have suspected. We had all the deals on our board, I was looking at all the terms of the deals and it actually looked not bad. So often times, you wonder if these deals will just gravitate to the maximum term and they didn’t. So that was promising but whenever you have two teams bidding and you're in the mix, it’s like sometimes at an auction you just want to keep bidding up to get this thing. And I’m bidding there and that feeling comes over and you just have to be careful and that is why prices get inflated. I’m not going to go through the deals specifically but there are deals – like we went and rated the worst five deals and the best five deals and every year you can see the same thing. There are some deals that are just too high and too much term for that player.

On if he is looking for someone to replace Jarome Iginla or if he is just looking to add a player at any position who will fit in…
Well, as I said, there are a couple of players that I think could fit in in the one, two, or three hole. That’s a testament to the other two wingers or the other two forwards on that specific line. I like Reilly [Smith] where he is and that’s probably where he is going to stay. But the other two spots you can move up and down. You’ve got a good winger with Carl [Soderberg], pardon, you’ve got a good center in Carl [Soderberg], you’ve got a good center in David [Krejci] and I feel that you could mix and match with a little bit. I’d like a right shot, at the end of the day we’re okay because you just wonder about the power play a little bit. There’s a lot of very effective left-shot and wingers, we have two of them. It’s just about the versatility on the power play where you’d like a guy who can maybe shoot it a little better with a right shot. So to answer your question, I’m not looking – I’m looking for someone who can play in the top nine.

On if he wants to sign Jordan Caron and if he can be a full-time player…
I think he can be a full time player. I think he’s – you know I’ve gotten a couple calls from him today and I have talked to him about this. It may be that it is time for him to get a chance with another team. So I do believe he can be a full time player. As I said at the draft, I’ve talked to a few teams about him and Jordan [Caron] wants to stay in Boston but he would welcome another opportunity also. So I will continue to explore those.

On if he has qualified Jordan Caron…
Yes I have.

On if he is going to negotiate with Jordan Caron or just wait to see what other teams are going to do…
It’s a little bit of both actually. If we have to – if he has to be a part of team he will and he’ll try out for a spot. I have no problem with that.

On if Boston was in the mix until the end of negotiations or if Jarome Iginla made his decision a couple of days ago…
I ended up talking to Jarome [Iginla]’s agent last night and I said it doesn’t look that good; it wasn’t going to be a fit. So it was late last night when we had the discussion and we said we would circle back if we think there is anything else we could do and we ended up – we didn’t end up speaking today. So that was the last conversation in a series of many conversation and we had discussed a lot of things so at that point we knew that it probably wasn’t going to be a fit.

On how comfortable he is with the roster as it stands…
I’m very comfortable and we lost in the second round but we won the Presidents’ trophy. There’s reasons why we lost, you know, you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water and you know, I don’t want to change the deck chairs on this one. Sorry for all the clichés by the way, I’m tired. I believe that we’re – a couple of our D has been bubbling up and we’re playing last year’s men, I really like what they did. Our forwards now are coming and you know what, we’ve got a strong core and I believe there are guys that are going to replace those goals that we lost. I also know that it’s important to make sure that these guys get a chance, these younger guys get a chance, to show that they can play. If they can’t play then that is another story but I’ve watched these kids, I think Donnie Sweeney has been instrumental with their development and Bruce Cassidy and these are – one or two of them are going to pop so I want them to have the opportunity. Right now I think there are three spots there, maybe at the end of the day there will be two for them to vie for. So I feel good, I think our guys are coming – you’d like them to get a chance. And that is kind of what we are looking at going into the year and I feel good about it now. They still – I’m always trying to improve this team so we’re always talking and speaking with teams and sometimes stuff falls through the cracks and then you have to react and that’s what the rest of the summer will be and that’s how we’ll approach it.

On if Bruce Cassidy is still up for the Assistant Coach’s job…
Claude [Julien] and I have spoken with him and we have to decide that. We’ve got probably four or five other names and Claude is meeting with some of them over development camp. Bruce [Cassidy] has been very instrumental in these young kids coming up and playing. So we have to decide that. I almost feel like he is part of our staff right now, there is so much interaction between Don Sweeney and him or myself and him and even Claude [Julien] talks to him. So sometimes that position’s more valuable in certain instances than an assistant coaching position. Both are quite valuable and I just feel strongly about Bruce and I have had that discussion with him so we’ll see where that one goes but I know Claude [Julien] has already talked to him and has had a good interview with him.

On when Development Camp will be occurring…
Yes, yes. We’ll get something out shortly but it will be the [July] 9-14th and the ice times will be the 9-13th.

On if he has any offers out now that he is waiting to hear back on…
No we’ve – not at the NHL level. Just to show everybody that we actually haven’t been sitting on our hands all day, we have a signing. He’s a depth player but we believe he’s still a prospect. Christopher Breen, he’s a defenseman that played in the Calgary system last year. We’ll be getting a release out there shortly but we actually did do something today so there you go.
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