Bruins general manager reacts to Tyler Bertuzzi’s one-year deal with Leafs

Bruins GM reacts to Tyler Bertuzzi’s one-year contract with Leafs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins weren’t able to get free agent left-winger Tyler Bertuzzi to a new contract before NHL free agency, so when the market opened up, they had to turn to other players.

The result was that the Bruins signed five players – forwards Morgan Geekie, Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk and Patrick Brown, plus defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk – to low-cost, short-term contracts.

Bertuzzi was arguably the best available forward entering free agency. He was to receive a multi-year contract worth between $5.5 million and $7 million per season. But that kind of lucrative, long-term contract was clearly not available, at least not from one of the top candidates.

Bertuzzi eventually agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That deal angered some Bruins fans because it was only a one-year deal and it wasn’t for a lot of money. It was also with one of the Bruins’ main rivals. Fans wondered, why couldn’t the Bruins offer Bertuzzi that kind of deal?

The reason is that signing Bertuzzi with this type of contract was not an option for the Bruins before they made all their signings. B general manager Don Sweeney said Friday in conversation with reporters after the team’s final day of development camp that a one-year contract was not the focus of the Bruins’ talks. with Bertuzzi before free will.

“There were players looking for longer-term deals. My discussions focused on that,” Sweeney said. “Some teams were well placed to absorb the shorter-term contracts with the right numbers. We had to go and fill our gaps. We did the (Taylor Hall trade) to open up the space (salary cap) that we needed. asked us to be even more proactive and get deals done which we explored, but we didn’t think it was important to open up even more space or be too aggressive in getting a deal done and then have to act on that.”

(Sweeney talks about Bertuzzi at 3:19 of the video below)

The Bruins couldn’t wait to make any free agent moves and hoped that Bertuzzi’s market might dwindle. The five veterans they acquired weren’t going to go unsigned for several days. Sweeney made the right decision to round out his roster, especially considering Day 1 of Boston’s free agency had just six forwards and six defensemen under contract for the 2023-24 season.

What’s next for Sweeney?

The Bruins have about $6.9 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, and have yet to sign restricted free agent goaltender Jeremy Swayman and restricted free agent forward Trent Frederic.

The Bs will also need some available space in case veteran centers Patrice Bergeron and/or David Krejci decide to return for another season. Sweeney said Friday there were no new updates on the future of Bergeron and Krejci.

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