FA Sweens

BOSTON -Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was clear in his summary of an eventful opening day of free agency, which saw him sign six players to NHL contracts during one of the club's busiest days of transactions in recent memory.
The additions of goalie Linus Ullmark, forwards Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek, and defenseman Derek Forbort, as well as the re-signing of blue liner Mike Reilly, signaled one thing: the Bruins are in it to win it in 2021-22.

"We were aggressive today to fill the holes," said Sweeney. "We're fortunate that our ownership group, Mr. Jacobs and Cam [Neely], said we've got a competitive group, we're in win mode."
While Sweeney loaded up on Wednesday afternoon, he said the work really began a couple of weeks ago when Brandon Carlo was inked to a six-year extension and continued last Friday when Taylor Hall was re-signed for four years. To him, both signings helped signal that this group was worth complementing.
"I think it started early on with Brandon Carlo and securing an extension - we were in a position where we wanted to know what direction that we could take this," said Sweeney. "We've always felt that our core group was so dedicated and driven to win, how could we support that moving forward? We were mindful of term during this period of time and identifying some players that would fit into that driven mindset.
"Brandon sort of started that by signing long term and allowed us to move to the next player in Taylor Hall and fitting the pieces together. If those players were not starting that process, it probably would have been much more difficult to go out there and look at players that were going to fit in."

Sweeney talks Free Agency

Changes in Net

The Bruins goaltending depth looks quite different than it did on Wednesday morning. Tuukka Rask is now an unrestricted free agent and Daniel Vladar was shipped to Calgary for a third-round pick in 2022, while Sweeney added Linus Ullmark on a four-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit to share the net with rookie Jeremy Swayman and Troy Grosenick on a one-year, two-way deal, presumably to be one of the netminders in Providence.
Sweeney said that ultimately the club "needed to be prepared and allow Tuukka all the time he needs to get healthy" after Boston's all-time winningest goalie underwent hip surgery earlier this week.
"Spoke to him this morning, doing very well," Sweeney said of Rask. "Just have to go through the process and go from there. I think we've always left the door open for Tuukka to return, and I think it just allows Jeremy to continue to progress at a natural rate, but also give him the opportunity to be at the NHL level. As you can see, we gave Daniel an opportunity to go to Calgary and establish some stuff there. They were excited to have him.
"It was a little bit of a musical chairs shuffle, but for all the right reasons. We just felt we've had very strong goaltending. We want to continue to have that, and it was a unique opportunity to explore having Linus join our group and we're excited about that."
Should Rask feel that he would like to return when he's healthy - the projected rehab time would have him back sometime in January or February - Sweeney said the Bruins would certainly be interested in bringing the backstop back for the stretch run.
"I see it like having extremely good goaltending at that point in time," Sweeney said of what the Bruins goaltending situation could look like after the new year. "Again, Jeremy is in a position where we have flexibility. He could be the best goaltender, and then you feel like not a lot of teams juggle with three, but you have opportunity if you needed to send Jeremy down [to the AHL} and get to the playoffs and play the best goaltender.
"Ultimately, you'd have, in Linus and Tuukka in that case - as you spelled it, that's hypothetical. But I think we're prepared in any way. What if you have an injury to somebody else? I'm knocking on wood here, obviously. You're just trying to be prepared. When you're trying to be a competitive team, you have to have depth.
"We felt that the last two playoffs, and we came up short. Now we're trying to make sure that we've got the most competitive team we can, and identify if we have some needs going forward that we may have to have some changes as well."

Ullmark talks following Free Agency

Krejci Still Unsigned

The first day of free agency came and went and longtime Bruins center David Krejci remained unsigned. Sweeney said he remains in contact with the two-time Stanley Cup Playoffs leading scorer but that "nothing has changed" in terms of any contract negotiations.
"David and I have communicated pretty consistently over the last little while," said Sweeney. "He has his own reasons and he's going to keep those private, as I am in terms of what his timeline is. Not unlike Tuukka, we've left things completely open-ended about him possibly returning to play for us. So, it's not a definitive timeline. As you can see from several of the signings and the approach that we took, the center ice position, a little bit by committee, that we're going to have to do that and allow some players to get into spots and hopefully perform to the level that they're capable of.
"David is a unique player and he's been a tremendous Bruin and a highly productive player throughout his career. And again, we hope that that will continue. But along that timeline of when he sees fit, not when we do. With Charlie Coyle coming off surgery - again, we wanted to identify players, and really two-positional players - in Nick Foligno's case, a three-position player - all of them good on draws, all of them on the penalty kill. Several of them have played power play situations and providing depth throughout our lineup was really important."

Saying Goodbye

While the Bruins welcomed a handful of new players to the roster, they also said goodbye to two crucial pieces of the roster in recent years as Jaroslav Halak (Vancouver) and Sean Kuraly (Columbus) both signed elsewhere. Halak inked a one-year contract with the Canucks for $1.5 million in salary and another $1.5 million in performance bonus eligibility.
The veteran netminder finishes his Bruins career with a 49-23-14 record, a .918 save percentage, and a 2.40 goals against average in 90 games. Halak teamed up with Rask to form one of the best goaltending duos in the league over his span in Black & Gold. The tandem won the Jennings Trophy for the fewest team goals allowed in 2019-20.
Kuraly, meanwhile, returns home to his native Columbus, Ohio. The 28-year-old notched 24 goals and 68 points in 270 games across five seasons with the Bruins. He was a crucial part of the fourth line during his tenure and was known for scoring goals in the biggest of moments.
"I'm grateful for guys like that. I was put in a heck of a situation in front of leaders and players and people like that," Kuraly said of Bruins captains Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron and the club's leadership group. "I tried to take as much as I could over the last four or five years with them…just grateful I was in the same room as them."
Veteran depth pieces Jarred Tinordi (two years) and Greg McKegg (one year) both signed with the New York Rangers. Tinordi played 18 games for Boston (14 regular season, four playoffs) with a memorable fight against Washington's Tom Wilson in his Bruins debut. McKegg picked up a goal in five games for the B's last season.