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NHL Source: ‘Sweeney Set The Table For The Offseason’



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The Boston Bruins may have swung and missed on some big NHL trade targets before the March 8 NHL Trade Deadline, but general manager Don Sweeney potentially laid the foundation for a successful offseason.

“Sweeney set the table for the offseason,” an NHL executive source opined to Boston Hockey Now on Friday. “Look at all that cap space he has, and his two biggest trade targets are still set to become free agents.”

If they were to set NHL betting odds on who may be the busiest GMs this coming offseason, Sweeney would be a favorite.

That cap space the source was referring to is – per our friends at Puckpedia – expected to be $21.7 million this offseason, with the NHL salary cap expected to rise to $87.7 million. Boston Bruins forwards Jake DeBrusk, James van Riemsdyk, Milan Lucic, Pat Maroon, and Danton Heinen, and defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Derek Forbort are all set to become unrestricted free agents. That’s potentially eight roster spots opening up, though the feel here is Heinen, van Riemsdyk, and potentially Shattenkirk could return on team-friendly cap hits.

The big question mark is Jake DeBrusk, who, as of the recent trade deadline, had not heard back from the Bruins about signing a contract extension. If the 27-year-old winger, whom the Bruins drafted 14th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, went to the open market in July, it’s expected he will get a minimum of $6 million per season and at least a four-year contract.

As for the recent trade targets that the source above mentioned, numerous other sources have confirmed that Sweeney, twice (from the Flames and then the Canucks), came very close to acquiring 29-year-old center Elias Lindholm. The Bruins GM also came close to finally reeling in his white whale and Norwood, MA native Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames before the most stealth GM in the NHL, Kelly McCrimmon, swooped in and acquired the former Boston College defenseman for the Vegas Golden Knights.

With the Canucks willing to trade Lindholm less than a month after they acquired him and management being very non-committal on their intentions to sign or not sign him, the feel around the NHL right now is that Lindholm is headed to market.

“Initially, when we made the deal, I talked to his camp and said our intention was to sign him,” Canucks GM Patrik Allvin told TSN and Athletic NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun earlier this week. “But obviously, it’s got to work for both sides. We’ll see. I think it’s been a little bit of an adjustment time for him.

As for Hanifin, one would think if he fits in and the Golden Knights go on a run in the playoffs, then that, combined with the fact that Nevada is a no-income tax state with beautiful weather and living, he could be enticed to stay there. That being said, BHN has confirmed that Hanifin was willing to waive his no-movement clause not just to the Tampa Bay Lightning, had the trade to Vegas not occurred, but also to come home and play for the Bruins. The main issue with the Bruins is that they couldn’t match what the Knights offered. That, of course, won’t be an issue if and when the 27-year-old defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

If you’re an NHL Bettor, pay attention to the free agent futures when they come out, and remember the Bruins!

Regardless of whether or not Sweeney can land Hanfin and/or Lindholm on the UFA market, he will have plenty of cap space to lock up restricted free agent goalie Jeremy Swayman and go shopping. He could have even more if he is finally able to trade his other goalie, Linus Ullmark, which he will indeed try to do.

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