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Brad Marchand, Bruins begin extension talks

Forward can become unrestricted free agent after this season, had career-high 37 goals in 2015-16

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Left wing Brad Marchand and the Boston Bruins have begun talks on a contract extension, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Friday.

Marchand is entering the final season of the four-year, $18 million contract he signed Sept. 7, 2012, and can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.

"I think I've been pretty up front that I'd like to be aggressive in trying to identify [core players]," Sweeney said at Ristuccia Arena on the final day of on-ice work at Bruins development camp. "We have identified [Marchand] as a core guy and we want to continue down that path. Obviously it takes two sides to make a deal. I would envision that he'd like to be a part of this organization for what could arguably be his whole career. Brad has a say in this as well. But that's as far as talking about contract-wise, that's probably as far as I'd go in that regard."

Marchand, 28, led the Bruins with an NHL career best 37 goals in 77 games last season. A third-round pick (No. 71) of the Bruins at the 2006 NHL Draft, Marchand has scored at least 20 goals five times in seven NHL seasons. In 454 games, he has 153 goals and 289 points.

A Marchand extension is the latest event in a busy offseason for Sweeney. The Bruins signed defenseman Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract June 30; on July 1, they signed free agent forward David Backes to a five-year, $30 million contract, goaltender Anton Khudobin to a two-year, $2.4 million contract and forward Riley Nash to a two-year, $1.8 million contract, and re-signed defenseman John-Michael Liles to a one-year, $2 million contract; and on July 14 re-signed defensemen Colin Miller and Joe Morrow.

Sweeney said he's still looking to make improvements to help the Bruins return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them the past two seasons. Last season, they matched the Detroit Red Wings for third-most points in the Atlantic Division but lost on the tiebreaker; they had 38 regulation/overtime wins to the Red Wings' 39.

"I think we're an improved hockey club," Sweeney said. "We identified some areas we wanted to make sure we were deeper at, certainly in the middle of the ice, penalty killing. We wanted a little more balance on our back end to be able to have some transitional play involved and getting back on pucks, moving pucks.

"We have players that need to continue to gain experience. But where are they getting that except the National Hockey League level? Are they ready to assume large roles? That's to be determined. It's not going to stop me from thinking about tinkering or acquiring a player that's more ready-made."

Sweeney also said Krug and center David Krejci are continuing to work their way back after offseason surgery. Krug had his right shoulder fixed April 21 and was expected to need six months to recover. Krejci had his left hip repaired April 25 and was expected to need five months to recover.

"Both doing very well," Sweeney said. "I see Torey pretty regularly because he's been around all summer. David just went down to Carolina for a few weeks. His rehab has gone very well. He's got it set up down there for a little bit but he's popping back up. Our doctors, our medical staff, they're very comfortable where both those players are at in their rehab process."

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