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Sweeney: Talks Ongoing with Hamilton’s Agent

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.

Throughout the past few weeks, General Manager Don Sweeney told reporters that he’s had ongoing talks with Hamilton’s agent, J.P. Barry, about the contract situation.

Speaking with members of the media on Thursday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. prior to the NHL Draft on Friday and Saturday in Sunrise, the Bruins’ GM reiterated that.

“I met with J.P. [Wednesday] night, and had friendly discussions, as I will continue to do,” Sweeney told gathered reporters. “I won’t be revealing any of the things we’ve spoken about; we’re just trying to stay in real, real good communication and find the solution.”

“Dougie is a real important part of our organization, and I’ve made no bones about the fact that I want him to be part of that, and we’re going to explore every opportunity to do that,” Sweeney added.

Ideally, the priority would be to have Hamilton signed prior to July 1.

“In a perfect world, it would be, yeah,” said Sweeney. “But you’ve got to have two sides to make a deal, and we’re just going to continue to explore that and communicate as best we can to find the right deal.”

In any deal, both parties have to come to an agreement, a matter-of-fact notion that Sweeney has repeatedly stressed.

“Well, it takes two sides, so I can’t control — offering maybe the highest level contract you could possibly imagine, that would probably get it done — but the situation is what it is, and we’re going to face it and communicate, and find the right course to get a contract done.”

The questions about Hamilton kept coming, though, as Sweeney was asked about the possibility of Hamilton receiving an offer sheet and if he had any indication that other teams might go that route.

“Well, I really don’t know if anybody’s broadcasting that — that they’d actually do that,” Sweeney stated. “It’s certainly been talked about. That part of the CBA’s not going away, so I have to be aware and prepared for it in case it does come our way.”

“We’re going to do whatever we have to do in order to protect the player.”

“Again, it’s two sides to make a deal in this situation,” Sweeney said. “We’ve presented opportunities on both ends of it and again, we’ll find the right deal.”

He also indicated that he’s been speaking with the agents for impending restricted free agents Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly.

“I’ve had real good talks with Ryan’s group, and we’ll find a deal to be done there as well, and I’ve started talks with Brett’s group as well,” said Sweeney.

As for the Bruins’ impending unrestricted free agents, Sweeney recently confirmed that the Bruins would not be re-signing Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, and that Carl Soderberg would not be returning to Boston.

“Greg Campbell and Dan Paille, they were a big part of our success in years past - there’s certainly losses [from the roster],” said Sweeney. “Do we feel like we have players who will be welcoming an opportunity to replace those players? You know, Carl moving on, I think Ryan Spooner looks at that as his opportunity, and Alexander Khokhlachev would look at it the same way.”

That leaves defensemen Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski as the Bruins' pair of impending UFAs.

“Well, I think the potential loss of Adam McQuaid will represent an opportunity - you saw Zach Trotman fill in - there’s always going to be a player that looks at the one door that’s closing and there’s another one opening,” said Sweeney. “Internally, we have to look at it in the exact same way. My position on Adam McQuaid is I would love to have Adam McQuaid back in our group.”

“To the point earlier, I can’t put ourselves in a position we don’t have - we don’t have that latitude and flexibility and that’s why that’s held it up, and I’ve communicated that with Adam’s group.”

Overall, Sweeney and his staff are prepared to ice the best roster possible for the 2015-16 season.

Is the first time GM feeling the heat, trying to put together a team that can contend for the the playoffs?

“We’re always going to feel the heat in the performance-based industry we’re in and I clearly want to have the best roster we can have,” said Sweeney. “That might not be built tomorrow or the next day. We’ll evaluate that in September and moving forward.”

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