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Sweeney Recaps 2016-17 Season, Stresses Areas for Improvement

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney held a press conference at TD Garden on Wednesday afternoon, along with Bruce Cassidy, who was officially named the 28th head coach in team history. 


Sweeney and Cassidy both recapped the 2016-17 season, and how they view team moving forward. 


There is obvious disappointment in the way the season ended, but the Black & Gold got back into the postseason and showed plenty of character both down the stretch, and while battling through injury adversity in the playoffs. 


"Overall, I think our staff did a very good job," Sweeney told gathered reporters at TD Garden. "We have a lot of work to do as an organization, still. We want to become a deeper, more talented team from top to bottom."

"Taking one step forward, in my opinion, is not successful. It's a good step, but we have work to do in a lot of areas that we want to continue to get better."


"The commitment to wining in this organization, it's the first thing that our core players who have won and have lifted the Stanley Cup, it's the first thing they ask," Sweeney continued. "They make sure the commitment, top to bottom, is there. Our younger players need to continue to understand that, and they need to grow."


The Bruins' veteran core group has continued to be rock solid, and young players have started to be integrated more into the lineup. 


"It's great to have young players and you're committing to it, but if they're not good enough and they don't deserve to be there, that's not a good plan to have, so we need to make sure that they're well prepared, whether they take the extra time in Providence - going to the playoffs they're going to," said Sweeney. "It's all important." 


"We have a lot of decisions to make from internal decisions of current players, whether they'll be restricted or unrestricted, we have some expansion draft planning to continue to do, a review for the organizational meetings standpoint where we meet with our scouts."


"And I go back to what Adam Creighton, one of our pro scouts, said to everybody at the table at the trade deadline - he said, 'We need to be a deeper, more talented team, and that's the bottom line.'"


Areas to Improve 


The Bruins had plenty of scoring from top guns Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak throughout the regular season. The area where they could have used a boost was in secondary scoring. 


"I think that the middle part of our lineup, the consistency, scoring, and depth, I think is an area [to improve]," said Sweeney. "Whether that's second, third [line], wherever those pieces fall into place, I think that's an area we need to continue to get better at."


"I believe our top line is one of the best lines in the league. We expect David Krejci, who should be commended for coming off hip surgery and playing 82 games, but he probably got off to a slower stat that we would have liked, and we missed him in the playoffs," said Sweeney.


"Identity on the fourth line and lower parts of the lineup, I thought they did a good job for most of the year and we feel comfortable going forward with our depth there," Sweeney continued. 


"Transitional puck play is an area that we're going to continue to look at through personnel, whether that's internally or outside. The backup goaltender situation was certainly a challenge the first part of the year," said Sweeney. "Give Anton [Khudobin] a lot of credit, give Bruce a lot of credit for putting him in and trusting him as well. But, it put a lot of strain on us earlier in the year. So, those are areas I think we need to make sure we feel more comfortable with."


Sweeney liked the infusion of youth into the lineup, and the way the team was prepared every night. 


Ultimately, as is the case with every season, Sweeney and his staff will be "looking at everything, inside and outside." 


Buyouts "Always a Tool"


When Sweeney was asked about utilizing buyouts on contacts entering the season, he said "it's always a tool. We went down that path last year. I haven't made a firm decision on that."


"There's cap implications and things you look at, lack of depth as a result of it. I think we've got to be pretty aware of all the residual associated with just throwing out the buyout term," said Sweeney. "For me, it went right down to the wire in that decision making last year and I'll take all the time necessary to make the right one this time."


No Decisions Yet on Impending Free Agents


The Bruins' impending free agents include: David Pastrnak, Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner, and Joe Morrow, who will become restricted free agents on July 1, in addition to Dominic Moore, Drew Stafford, and John-Michael Liles, who will become unrestricted free agents. 


"We went through exit interviews [on Tuesday] and I really just tried to go through the whole season with guys and where they were at and then we'll sit down as a group and make some decisions," said Sweeney. "We haven't made any hard or fast decisions on any one individual as of right now. We have an idea for expansion and going forward, but haven't made any concrete [decisions] - didn't deliver any of that news yesterday."


Bruins Heading Overseas


As the Bruins head into their offseason, a few players won't be shutting down quite yet. 


Charlie McAvoy has joined Team USA for the World Championship, while David Pastrnak will be competing for his native Czech Republic. 


"Anders [Bjork] is also playing on Team USA, and we've had discussions," Sweeney said, of the Bruins prospect who finished his sophomore season with Notre Dame. "We'll continue to have discussions. He hasn't made a firm decision, whether or not he's leaving school. So it will be his decision. The opportunity is there for him to join us, and we'd like him to, but again, that's his decision to make, at the right time."


Injury Information


During the press conference, Sweeney was asked about the team's injuries heading into the offseason, and if any player required surgery. 


"Patrice is going to take a little bit more time, to see if things calm down, as opposed to taking the surgical route," said Sweeney. "Tuukka's in the same boat [with his groin], in terms of allowing to have a little bit of rest and seeing and will re-evaluate with subsequent testing."


"Kevan Miller has a follow-up report [with his shoulder, bicep area] as well to be done," said Sweeney. "I don't think that there's anything there, but to make sure. Frank will subsequent follow-up on his foot to make sure there's nothing - as you know, he had surgery in the first part of the year. Just making sure we do our due diligence with any guys that had any types of injuries."


"Krejci - he'll just need time to recover on his injury. Carlo's had the concussion and hopefully will continue to progress - has made a progression. Torey doesn't need surgery. He's actually moving along well in his recovery. I think that's it. Adam McQuaid has a neck issue that he's resolving as well and he'll just need a little bit more time, but not a surgical option."


Video: Sweeney recaps the 2016-17 season

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