In an exclusive interview with Boston Hockey Now this past week, Rick Valette, the agent for Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk, said he will focus on his client’s resilience and big-game ability when negotiations start again for DeBrusk on his second NHL contract. In a one-on-one interview with TSN reporter Mark Masters that was posted on Sunday night, DeBrusk said that he’d prefer at least when it came to his role in negotiations, they wait until after the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It’s kind of a weird position and it’s my first contract negotiation. Obviously, my main focus is on the team and to play the games,” DeBrusk told Masters. “I don’t really want to be talking about money mid-series or anything like that, you know what I mean, so that’s my vibe on that. Just want to play it out and try and help the team win. Any time you have to go across the border in a pandemic you have different motivations than contract talks.”
Earlier on Sunday, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney did say he’s more than willing to start negotiations with his restricted and unrestricted free agents once training camp and Phase 3 begins Monday and into Phase 4 and the playoffs.
“I’ve never stated that we’d never have conversations, so ultimately I think we’ll have [contract discussions] case-by-case,” Sweeney told the media Sunday in a Zoom call. “I’m not going to be overly aggressive as we get into Phase 3 getting ready to play and then into the playoffs. But if something makes sense then we’ll do it. If there are some players that are very particular and don’t want to have those conversations until we’re done [with the games] then I respect that as well.”
DeBrusk has already stated now that he is one of those ‘very particular’ but Sweeney intends to at least check in with Vilette soon as well as the agents for all his UFA’s and RFA’s.
“I think I’ll just touch base with each and every one of [the free agents], and that includes RFA’s that want to know where they’re going to be,” Sweeney said. There will be some conversations that will take place in terms of how we’re going to position contracts and how we’re going to structure contracts, and how you fit it together.”
With a flattened cap at $81.5 million, Sweeney will have to do some maneuvering if he expects to look up RFA’s like DeBrusk and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as well as the big fish, defenseman Torey Krug. As he pointed out though, he will be one of many GM’s in that precarious position, and somebody may have to go this offseason.
“Ultimately, we’re all going to have the $81.5 million for the next two years. We’re going to start to have conversations,” he said. We’ve had to run simulations and still [get to a place] where we’re treating every player fairly from a compensation standpoint. But we have some decisions to make and we may have to make some hard decisions just like every other team in the league now that we have the parameters of the cap and how the mechanisms of the new CBA are going to work.”