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Three Takeaways from the Bruins’ End of Season Press Conference

(Photo Credit: Jason Cooke / Black N’ Gold)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

The Boston Bruins won’t be competing for a Stanley Cup in June, but that doesn’t mean management isn’t optimistic regarding the club’s future when the B’s hit the ice for the 2024-25 season in October. When CEO and alternate governor Charlie Jacobs, president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney, and head coach Jim Montgomery hit the podium for the annual end of season press conference on Wednesday afternoon, they were frustrated to see their season end in the second round. And they didn’t hide it.

“We’re bitterly disappointed that we did not push this to the very least to a Game 7,” Sweeney said in his opening statement. “To extend that series, to continue to challenge for what our ultimate goal is, and it’s to win at the most important time of the year.”

However, Sweeney and his counterparts continuously echoed the words “excited” and “opportunity” throughout their presser. Instead of a somber, dreary half-hour reminiscent of what could have been, Bruins management already has their eyes locked on a season in which they have high expectations. For Montgomery, that vision starts with the captain.

“What excites me about the potential of next year is the growth and experience that one, our captain Brad Marchand is going to have to grow as a captain because he made it his team,” Montgomery said. “And having all summer to build relationships with his core leaders I think is only going to make us better, and he will continue to grow in that capacity.”

Sweeney and company likely understood their limitations in terms of spending and roster construction for this season. While a second-round appearance in what was considered by many to be a “bridge year” isn’t exactly a success, it’s a step in the right direction, given the cap flexibility they have this summer. That’s the general feeling I gathered from the session. However, for the Bruins to be back in contention next season, perhaps one of the most crucial offseasons in recent history awaits for Sweeney. Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s press conference regarding how the Bruins plan to do just that.

No Personnel Changes Anticipated

Jacobs made one thing clear from the start of the presser: Sweeney, Neely, and Montgomery won’t be going anywhere. While we will never know if Montgomery’s job could have been at risk if the B’s were eliminated in the first round at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, we do know that he will serve as Boston’s bench boss for the foreseeable future.

“The three gentlemen to my left have my complete confidence,” Jacobs said. “We have no expectation of personnel changes coming during this upcoming offseason.”

As Sweeney received a lot of credit for assembling a roster amidst his dive into the bargain bin last season, he positively highlighted Montgomery’s ability to enable players to be at their best, which he excelled at this season. Morgan Geekie (17-22-39) shattered his career-best point mark of 28, Charlie Coyle recorded the most points in his six-year tenure in the Black and Gold (25-35-60), and Danton Heinen enjoyed his most productive National Hockey League season (17-19-36) since the 2017-18 campaign. Montgomery has proven an ability to get the most out of his players.

“Jim is a strong, strong communicator,” said Sweeney. “When you’re adding the players that we did and coming in and having a new captain, I think is one of the strengths of his coaching ability to unite players of that sort (and) to clearly identify the areas that we’re looking for our group to carry forward.”

Bruins Considering Goaltending Options

This is the most obvious question of them all. The Bruins have two all-star-caliber goalies who require a significant financial commitment. Jeremy Swayman is now a restricted free agent, and Linus Ullmark has one year remaining on his $5 million deal. For Sweeney, the first priority is to lock Swayman up in a long-term contract. Sweeney also noted that Swayman took his negotiations last season to arbitration.

“It’s not an indication of whether or not we didn’t believe in Jeremy Swayman or whether or not we don’t think he’s a big part of our future. We clearly engaged with conversations during the regular season to find a longer-term extension. We haven’t gotten there yet. It’s a priority now and it will continue to be a priority until we get that across the finish line.”

As for Ullmark, Sweeney wouldn’t reveal the conversations he’s had or is anticipating having with the veteran goaltender. Ideally, it’s assumed the best move for the Bruins would be to trade Ullmark to free up some cash for other offseason additions. But with his reported no-trade clause, that is difficult. Sweeney wouldn’t get into any specifics other than that he was going to explore all options.

“If we can make the math work, we’re going to have the best tandem. If we can’t, we’re going to explore, or Linus might come to us and change his mind. That may occur as well. Right now, he’s really happy. We were really happy to sign Linus, and in a perfect world, we would keep the tandem because I think it’s damn good.”

Sweeney Commits to Being Aggressive

The Bruins have roughly $21 million in projected cap space this offseason, and Sweeney plans to be aggressive. Sweeney acknowledged a need for speed and aggression on the forecheck, citing the remaining teams in the Conference Finals who are successful in those departments.

“We’re going to be aggressive to be able to complement what we currently have in some areas,” he said.

While Boston’s blue line could use some extra flare, the primary focus for Sweeney and staff this summer will likely come in Boston’s middle-six, where a speedy center or goal-scoring winger would be most attractive to the Bruins. And they sure have the money to make a splash.

But before Sweeney can make additions, he’ll have to make decisions about a slew of free agents, including Jake DeBrusk, who is now an unrestricted free agent after his two-year, $8 million contract expires. DeBrusk struggled throughout the year in an up-and-down season, posting 19-21-40 after a 50-point campaign the year prior. However, in DeBrusk fashion, he flipped the switch in the playoffs, leading the team in points with 11.

“Negotiation is a two-way street,” Sweeney said of contract talks with DeBrusk. “We took an aggressive position with Jake, no different than other players who have chosen not to re-sign and explore. That’s within his right, certainly at this time of the year. Do I see a path? Yeah, there’s a path. And I told him that at our exits, he’s been a big part of our group, he elevated in the playoffs, and I would prefer to have Jake DeBrusk on our team.”

Pat Maroon is another piece the Bruins will need to make a decision on. After being sent from the Minnesota Wild for Luke Toporowski and a conditional sixth-round pick, he skated in just two regular season games for the B’s before suiting up for 13 playoff games.

“I think Pat was really instrumental for that second voice or third voice,” said Montgomery. “Especially on the bench. Especially in moments, I think I’ve talked about it and other players have talked about it. In the face of adversity, he has a lot of special qualities that give confidence to players that we can or we will attitude. He was important in a lot of facets to our team.”

For the 36-year-old three-time Stanley Cup winner to stay in Boston, Sweeney cited health as the “paramount” factor to consider in Maroon’s future in Boston. Maroon previously had back surgery this winter, sidelining him until the very end of the regular season.

1 Comment

  1. bruinmann77

    This is going to be a very big offseason for Don lets see what he will be able to pull off.

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