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Sweeney Deflects Back To DeBrusk In Contract Talks

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The blame game for stalled contract talks between impending unrestricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk and the Boston Bruins continued on Wednesday.

Speaking in the team’s end-of-season press conference with CEO and Alternate Governor Charlie Jacobs, President Cam Neely, Head Coach Jim Montgomery, and himself, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney seemed to indicate that the lack of contract talks between the two parties was on the DeBrusk camp.

“Again, negotiation is a two-way street,” a seemingly perturbed Sweeney pointed out. “We’ve taken an aggressive position with Jake. No different than other players that have chosen not to resign and explore; that’s within his right, certainly at this time of the year.”

Does that mean that DeBrusk and his agent have informed the Boston Bruins that the team’s 2015 first-round pick (14th overall) is going to market on July 1?

At the time this article was published, an email to DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, on the topic had not been returned.

What should also be noted from the above comments by Sweeney on Wednesday is that just prior to training camp at the annual Boston Bruins Foundation team golf tournament on Sept. 18, DeBrusk took a similar shot at the Bruins, indicating that it was them that didn’t want to talk contract extension leading into this past season.

“I’m approaching it just getting ready for game 1,” Jake DeBrusk told reporters then. “Getting my game ready, and I guess when it comes to contract talks, it’s one of those things where you need two sides to tango, and if it happens, it happens, but it’s one of those things where it’s obviously not my main focus, but it’s going to be a big year for our team in general, and I know that if I’m doing my part and having success with production and certain things that will help our team. So, I think it goes hand in hand, and it’s one of those things that I’m just ready to get the season started. I’m excited for it, and it’s just about staying healthy.”

Regardless of the common deflection through the media that occurs when two sides can’t find common ground, Sweeney did praise DeBrusk for a strong playoff performance (5g, 6a, 13GP) and expressed a desire to keep him a Bruin.

“Do I see a path? Yeah, there’s a path,” Sweeney said on Wednesday. I told him that at our exit meetings. You know, he’s been a big part of our group; he elevated in the playoffs. I would prefer to have Jake DeBrusk as part of our team, but he has some opportunities in front of him that he may pursue otherwise. I don’t have a clear answer for you today. But I know the position we’ve taken, we feel very comfortable. But it didn’t get to the finish line.”

One thing Sweeney didn’t try to downplay is that, with upwards of $20.5 million in salary cap space freeing up, he does have the money to give DeBrusk a raise on the $4 million he’s earned each of the last two seasons. How much of that cap space he thinks DeBrusk is worth with other bigger areas, like Jeremy Swayman due for a raise, shall be seen. As of now, it appears that it’s not enough to keep DeBrusk from getting to market on July 1.

 

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