BOSTON -- Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Sunday he is continuing to negotiate a contract with the representatives of forward Loui Eriksson, but Sweeney is leaving his options open.
Eriksson, who is tied for second on the Bruins with 48 points, can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. ET on Monday.
"[It's] always going to be about Loui's a good player, he's having a great season, he's very important for our success up to date," Sweeney said before the Bruins faced the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. "We treat it as such. If another team that I've had several discussions with felt that was equal to that side of it and the deal was the right fit, then that's something we'd explore. But my preference has been all along to try to sign him and go from there."
Sweeney said that if the Bruins can't come to terms on a contract with Eriksson, they wouldn't hesitate to retain his services beyond the trade deadline.
"Loui's a valuable player and other teams are probably seeing it accordingly as such," Sweeney said. "But to me, he's an impactful player on our hockey club. I would have continuing negotiations with him as such. We value him, we've offered him a significant contract, there's a gap there that exists at times with players and we'll see where it goes. (It) doesn't mean I'll stop between now and then and whether or something might materialize. But bottom line, you've got to do what's best for the organization and move forward."
The 30-year-old Eriksson is tied for second on the Bruins with 23 goals and he is third among Bruins forwards in average ice time (19:35). Eriksson is a mainstay on Boston's power play and penalty kill. If Sweeney trades Eriksson, the GM knows it will be difficult to replace him and make a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Bruins, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time in eight seasons, began play Sunday tied with the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division with 74 points.
"Well I think it would be a significant impact," Sweeney said of trading Eriksson. "You realize what Loui's impact is on our hockey club night after night, and it's significant. So we'd have to look to make sure whether internally we have some guys that can help, but more than likely you have to bring in a player that, whether it's in one move or subsequent moves, that would be able to fill that gap. To me, it would be a big loss for our hockey club for sure."