The NHL’s trade deadline is set for Monday, Feb. 29 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Activity was heating up around the league on Sunday, as general managers look to improve their clubs — both short-term for the playoff push, and long-term in regards to draft picks and prospects.
“I don’t know if anybody’s ever comfortable,” said Sweeney. “Maybe Washington, because they’re out front, but they’re even trying to tinker. I think everybody’s trying to improve their hockey club.”
“We’ve said that from day one — it’s never a disparaging comment regarding the players you currently have, it’s just an opportunity to continue to canvass right up until the deadline, to allow you to see if you can improve, and if that means we’re giving up draft picks to do that, then that’s what we’re going to continue to explore to do.”
Much talk has centered around impending unrestricted free agent Loui Eriksson.
“We’ve made offers to Loui and haven’t been able to find a deal at this point in time, so it’s sort of status quo on that front,” said Sweeney.
“There’s been ongoing discussions. Certainly they have their position and we have ours and we’d like to find a deal, but it hasn’t happened to this point and you guys know me well enough now, that I’m not willing to be disclosing where those parameters lie.”
Regardless of the negotiations, there’s no denying the impact Eriksson has had on the Bruins this season — putting up 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points in 62 games entering Sunday’s game.
“Loui’s a good player, he’s having a great season, he’s very important for our success up to date and we treat it as such,” said Sweeney. “If another team — and I’ve had several discussions with teams — felt that was equal on that side of it and a deal was the right fit, then that’s something we would explore, but my preference has been all along to try and sign him and go from there.”
Eriksson has spent three seasons with Boston after being acquired in the July 4, 2013 trade with Dallas.
“Loui is a valuable player and other teams are probably seeing him accordingly as such,” said Sweeney. “To me, as the question was asked earlier, he’s an impactful player in our hockey club. I would have continuing negotiations with him as such.”
“We value him; we’ve offered him a significant contract. There’s a gap there that exists at times with players and we’ll see where it goes. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop between now and then as to whether or not something will materialize — bottom line, you have to do what’s best for the organization and move forward.”
As teams head into Monday’s deadline, many trade talks have involved draft picks.
“I think the overall depth of the hockey club is something we want to continue to identify and try and improve,” said Sweeney. “Most of talks have also centered around draft picks — a lot of prospects have not changed hands here and there.”
“I think this is a time where teams zero in on not giving up much on their own club that they feel they’re in position, and other teams are feeling like they may take a step back and re-stock come June, so they’re trying to accumulate, so that’s sort of where the balance of the talks have been.”
Sweeney was asked by a reporter specifically about the possibility of acquiring a top-four defenseman before the deadline.
Apart from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins have utilized a fairly young back end all season.
“Well I think anybody that has an opportunity to improve their club, be it as you described, a top-four potential, top-four defenseman, I think they’d be excited to do that,” said Sweeney.
“What the cost of that is, is what we’re all balancing. During the last several weeks, I’ve had a lot of discussions, obviously with 29 other general managers, to see where they’re trying to improve their clubs, and the overwhelming thought is that we’ve stockpiled a number of players that I think that it’s set this organization up going forward very well, and we’ve done a very good job this year.”
“Our team has grown along, as we’ve said. I think our players have done a good job, and I think our coaches have also done a good job. As we stand right now, we’re in a playoff position. I’d like to try and help and support the group, and that’s what it’s really all about.”
Talbot Clears Waivers; Rinaldo Placed on Waivers
Forward Max Talbot cleared waivers at noon (ET) on Sunday, while Sweeney confirmed that forward Zac Rinaldo had been placed on waivers (he was set to be in the lineup on Sunday against Tampa Bay).
“There’s certain times a year when you have an opportunity before deadlines to create flexibility and I think both of those represent that,” said Sweeney. “There are plenty of players that have gone on waivers and nothing has happened, and in both counts, that might be the case. But you know, as I said, we have certain deadlines that we have to adhere to and in order to create flexibility with some of the discussions that we’ve had then that was something that we had to do.”
“As difficult as the conversations are to have you have to have them, and again do what’s best for the hockey club.”