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Bruins working toward new contract for Hamilton

by Kristen Nelson

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Friday that he knows the other 29 NHL teams noticed defenseman Dougie Hamilton's breakout 2014-15 season.

Paired with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for most of the season, Hamilton had career-bests of 10 goals and 42 points while averaging 21:20 of ice time.

Now those same teams will be watching the Bruins to see if they can sign Hamilton to a new contract before July 1, when he would become a restricted free agent.

Sweeney would not comment on the contract negotiations with Hamilton, but he did say he was impressed by how the 21-year-old played this season.

"He had a real good year, a real breakout year offensively, and continues to round out his game both on and off the ice as a foundation-type player," Sweeney said. "We're excited to have Dougie as part of our group."

Sweeney said he is aware of potential offer sheets that could tempt Hamilton if he's not signed before the start of free agency.

"Over time there's been certain players when bells and whistles go off. … We understand it and we're moving forward with how we want to get this done," Sweeney said.

While the Hamilton negotiations continue, there are other issues Sweeney is dealing with.

He said because of salary-cap constraints, it's unlikely that center Carl Soderberg, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, will return next season.

"Carl was a very important part of our team this year," Sweeney said. "In a perfect world we would be able to retain Carl. It's highly unlikely at this point in time that that will be happening relative to overall situation."

The returns of impending unrestricted free agent defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid also are questionable. Sweeney said he's spoken with representatives for Bartkowski, McQuaid and Soderberg and said salary-cap issues won't allow all three to be re-signed.

"It's obviously coming down to the wire with their abilities to interview elsewhere," Sweeney said. "I have had several talks with teams [about trades] that may or may not present the opportunity to bring one of those players back."

Sweeney also reaffirmed what former GM Peter Chiarelli said prior to being fired, that forwards Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, both impending unrestricted free agents, will not return next season.

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