CHICAGO - General Manager Don Sweeney held his annual pre-draft media availability on Thursday morning in Chicago prior to the 2017 NHL Draft.
The Bruins' GM discussed this year's draft pool, the Bruins' approach to the draft, and the trade market around the league. He also discussed Wednesday night's Expansion Draft, when the Bruins lost defenseman Colin Miller to the Vegas Golden Knights.
"Unfortunately we're losing a good, young player," said Sweeney. "We thought highly of Colin, he was part of a big trade for us and we wish him well going forward. We thank him for his part in the organization, but we lost a good player."
Despite losing Miller, Sweeney is confident in his group of defensemen currently on the roster.
"We feel very comfortable with the six guys we have on our roster right now," said Sweeney. "We think the group itself has a lot of depth to it, we're excited about our younger players, but if there are targets specifically, that's something we're going to continue to look at."
Now that the expansion draft has passed, the league has taken a quick collective breath before the business of NHL Draft weekend.
"I don't know if anybody is catching their breath other than the guys that took the red-eye last night from Vegas," smiled Sweeney.
"I think now, it's going to accelerate again between now and throughout this weekend," said Sweeney. "And then you've got a busy period leading into the visitation and talking period [for free agency]. So, I think actually, it's going to pick back up. I don't know if things are going to settle as much."
Sweeney mentioned that there had been several discussions among the general managers leading put to the expansion draft.
"There have been a lot of names that have been tossed around in the last little while and now it will be interesting knowing what the prices were likely to be when I was in discussions, and in full disclosure now, most of the trades have been completed," said Sweeney. "Where they're going between now and the draft will be interesting."
Members of the Bruins' management and scouting staff have been preparing all year for this weekend. Boston is set to have six draft picks, including the 18th overall pick in the first round, along with five selections in the second through seventh rounds (second round - 53rd overall, fourth round - 111th, sixth round - 173rd, seventh round - 195th, 204th).
"We feel good about where we're picking right now," said Sweeney. "We've had some talks in moving either direction and moving the pick, so we've got a lot of work to do between now and [Friday]."
"The closer you get to the draft, obviously your scouts have worked hard all year long and they want to make picks," said Sweeney. "They're excited about the players that are potentially available at that spot."
"We've got players on either side of where we pick, movement wise, if we went up in the draft, but more likely moving back to potentially take a player that we still think might be there, so there's value as a result of that," said Sweeney. "So those are the two scenarios that we've really discussed on the amateur side of it and on the pro side, we've discussed players we may utilize and use the pick to acquire, because we're still trying to improve our team. We want to be better for next year."
Sweeney also assessed this year's draft pool, coming off a draft in 2016 that saw players like Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine make immediate impacts in the NHL.
"I think the draft has a lot of quality to it," said Sweeney. "I think it's spread out a little bit in terms of what the opinions are for each team, as opposed to years past. I think the list was tight [last year] as to where people thought players would be slotted and I think there's some variance in this one, as far as what teams are looking for in terms of best player, need, or positional stuff."
"People talk about, 'well, is there a generational player?' You never know," said Sweeney. "Arguably, is there a guy who steps in like the past couple of drafts? Maybe not, but I certainly don't be disparaging against who I think are the top players in this draft, by any means."
Video: Sweeney and B's scouting staff prep for Draft
Looking At Goalies
During the media availability, Sweeney was asked if the Bruins will be looking to add a goalie through the draft or other avenues.
"I think it's an area we're going to continue to look at, whether it's immediate for our backup, or moving forward," said Sweeney. "All three of our young goaltenders had some success this year in different parts, but they need to continue to move forward if they're going to push our No. 1 guy who we've been honest in saying we need to find a good complement to."
Restricted Free Agents
In the case of restricted free agents, Sweeney said that they have made decisions on which players they will qualify, and which players will enter the free agent pool as UFAs.
"We have [made decisions], but I haven't contacted them yet," said Sweeney. "I've given them an indication, hinted-wise, but I'll do that as soon as we get done with the draft."
David Pastrnak is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
"We haven't made any headway since the last time we spoke on that one; I think we have an understanding of where it kind of is at now and where it may head," Sweeney said of contract talks regarding Pastrnak's re-signing. "But, with the expansion stuff and with this draft, it just kind of hasn't been completed. But, hopefully, we'll get back at that soon."
Bruins on Track
Of the Bruins who were injured at the end of the 2016-17 season, all appear to be on track in their recoveries. Patrice Bergeron is recovering from a sports hernia repair, while Tuukka Rask is rehabbing after surgery on his right groin in May.
"Everybody is back on track and doing well with their rehab," said Sweeney. "Cross your fingers and toes that there are no surprises between now and October."
With the recent announcement that Kevin Dean would be joining Boston as an assistant coach, there is a vacancy at the Providence Bruins head coaching position.
"We've got a pretty exhaustive search going on in that regard," said Sweeney. "Don't have a definitive timetable. Obviously, it's a good opportunity with the coaches being here to talk to some people. John Ferguson is heading [the search] and I'm supporting in interviewing in concert with him to find the right guy."
Video: Sweeney speaks prior to the NHL Draft