Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney met with the media Friday and there was nothing new to report on the contract status of restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo or forward Danton Heinen. He did, however, say that the Bruins will be active when unrestricted free agency starts on Monday at Noon ET.
“As I’ve said all along, I don’t have a timeline for that, but they’ll be playing for Boston at some point in time this year prior to December 1,” Sweeney said. “That’s the only real deadline we face, but we’ll be at it. We’ve been at it for a while with those guys, but as far as July, we’ll be adding some players, for sure come July 1.”
What kind of players and how much money they can spend on the open market though is obviously dependent on what happens with his RFA’s and when he can sign them and Sweeney acknowledged as much.
“Very prominently,” he answered when asked how much the status of McAvoy, Carlo, and Heinen was affecting free agent shopping. “It was a reason why we had tried to be in front of things, but as I said, there’s no timeline to find a deal. Two sides have to find it, and there’s been a patient…the overall plan, but it’s pretty apparent around the league that the RFAs are being patient in that regard. There’s been a few. You know, Philadelphia signed their defenseman [Travis Sanheim] the other day. So, I’m hopeful that our players would see it that way, but I can’t force them to see it that way.”
This offseason there is a plethora of talent in the RFA market, with the likes of Maple Leafs young star forward Mitch Marner, Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen and Stanley Cup-winning goalie Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues. Since June 26, Sweeney, like every other NHL GM, had the option to speak with other teams’ restricted free agents but chose not to and remained focused on his own.
“I really can only speak to ours,” he said. “I’ve had conversations with other general managers that are in similar situations. I assume other teams are talking to RFAs. I’m not talking to other teams’ RFAs at this point in time, but they’re well within their right to talk to ours. It’s part of the CBA, and we’re in no position to worry about someone else talking to ours, so I’m not concerned about it other than if they want to make a trade, they can call me. Outside of that, we’re negotiating in good faith with all of our players and intend, as I said, to have them all back.”
Sweeney admitted that the RFA market could really get going once a big name player like those listed above puts pen to paper on a new contract but isn’t expecting a significant fallout.
“There are comparables, and maybe they’re going to wait for that I don’t think anyone comparable sets the market, so I don’t think there’s a huge domino effect for that,” he pointed out. “If there was then – as I said, Philadelphia just signed one of their players recently. It’s just a matter of when the deals get done.”