With the NHL Free Agency right around the corner, and training camp not too far in the distant future, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney would like to bring back the same team that lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues, unfortunately, with a lower salary cap than expected, that will not happen. While Sweeney likes where the hockey team is at, the Bruins will be active on July 1 and will be “looking to add” players as he continues to look to improve the hockey club. And now with the departure of Marcus Johansson, according to a source close to Boston Hockey Now, there is an opportunity for someone within the organization to take it.
“There are several players as I referenced that would look at the potential exits – again,” said Sweeney. “I’m not saying that Marcus is leaving or Noel is leaving, but there might be an opportunity there. There are several players that really should have their eyes wide open, be able to take the next step. And sometimes that’s what it takes to get you over.”
Not only will the Bruins look for replacements from within, but will also explore players from outside the organization to see who fits best within the system. Again, that all depends on what happens with the Bruins RFAs. Sweeney wants to have a healthy competition when training camp begins in September.
“We’ve had other players in the last two, three years that have done that as well,” Sweeney added. “That’s what we have to look at, but we’ll be bringing in some other players to create that internal competition, which I do believe our group will need and will benefit from.”
History has shown that the Bruins have been able to build from within when a key player leaves via free agency. All it takes is one opportunity for a young player to show the coaching staff or the general manager he is the right player for the team. Take for example Bruins defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug. McAvoy was drafted by the Bruins while Krug was an undrafted college free agent signing. Both were developed by the organization and proved they could play at the NHL level right away. Both have been mainstays on the Bruins blue line for the last couple of years.
This year will be no different for the Bruins when the team holds training camp this fall. Sweeney and the Bruins are hoping that come training camp, the competition is fierce and the young players are aware of the opportunity that is in front of them and grab it as the tone will be set on Day 1.
“This camp, in September, will be one for all the young players to be very keenly aware of, “Sweeney said. “We played over 100 games this year. We’re going to be very careful with some of our guys, so the opportunity is going to be there for several people to make an impression. And that message is going to be sent loud and clear.”
Regardless of what the Bruins do on July 1 in regards to filling Johansson’s spot at the wing or other improvements Sweeney sees fit, the message is loud and clear, there will be an opportunity for someone to earn a spot in the lineup.