As reported here earlier this week, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed to the media on Friday that the Bruins were never given the one-year contract option from winger Tyler Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi’s agent Todd Reynolds has already confirmed that he and his client decided to hit the NHL free-agent market last Saturday after Sweeney and the Boston Bruins refused to add more term to their final contract offer. However, when Bertuzzi hit the open market, a multi-year contract wasn’t on the table, and on Monday, Reynolds and Tyler Bertuzzi surprisingly agreed on a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reynolds already told ESPN that they never circled back with the Bruins to see if they would consider a one-year contract, and on Friday, Sweeney confirmed that as well.
“Probably a little bit,” Sweeney replied when asked if he was caught off guard by the one-year contract Bertuzzi signed with the Maple Leafs.
“Again, I’ll speak more generally than just talking about a player on another team at this point in time. There were players that were looking for longer-term deals, and my discussions were focused on that, and some teams were in a good position to be able to give shorter-term deals at the right numbers, and we had to go and fill our gaps. We made a move to open up the space we needed. It would’ve required us to be even more proactive and do deals that we explored, but we didn’t feel the value was there to open up even more space or to be overly aggressive and to do a deal and have to make a move as a result of that.”
Don Sweeney had already made a salary cap dump to accommodate signing Bertuzzi and other unrestricted and restricted free agents when he traded winger Taylor Hall and the free agent signing rights to Nick Foligno to the Chicago Blackhawks on June 26. On Friday, Sweeney said that given the unsatisfactory returns in NHL trade talks for other Bruins players, he wasn’t about to give away another player in order to fit in just one player in Bertuzzi.
“Yeah, I mean, even in the Taylor Hall (deal) where we freed up enough space to do what we had to do, you aren’t trying to walk a good player out of your lineup,” Sweeney pointed out. “We had a really good team this year, and we had a lot of really good players. We had tough decisions to make, and we’re still waiting on some decisions. So, that’s not the goal… Stripping things down, and you see teams do that around the deadline when there have been situations that have been determined… We have a competitive core, and we’re trying to complement that and allow some guys to grow. We have three players that filed for arbitration, and two of those were on our team and an important part of that as well, that we have to factor in.”