Bruins would like to keep Johansson, Acciari but it’s seeming less likely

Matt Kalman
June 28, 2019 - 5:30 pm

According to published reports, Bruins unrestricted free agent forward Marcus Johansson has been talking to several teams, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, during the free agent interview period this week.

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The Washington Capitals have also reportedly show interest in bringing back Johansson, a Capitals first-round pick in 2009 (24th overall). And the Bruins remain in the mix.

General manager Don Sweeney confirmed Boston’s interest Friday during his annual pre-free agency press conference. But unfortunately for Boston talking specifics with Johansson’s agent J.P. Barry is difficult because of the uncertainty surrounding restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen.

“Yeah, I’ve had discussions with JP. … It’s awfully difficult to have a conversation that would extend beyond our interest and be more definitive heading into July 1 given the landscape of what we have to deal with. So that’s as forthright as I can be now,” Sweeney said.

With around $12 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, the Bruins are going to have to be cautious with their money. The RFAs are going to take up a great amount of that space.

But Sweeney predicted that whether he gets the RFA deals done before or after July 1, the Bruins will be active on Monday when the market opens in an attempt to improve his team.

“There are areas you can try to improve your team within reason. But RFA has been a part of that plan, so I’m not going to overextend ourselves unless it was something that we felt was the perfect fit for our hockey club at this time,” he said.

Sweeney said the Bruins have talked to some UFAs this week, but not any RFAs. He said there could be other teams talking to Boston’s RFAs (although McAvoy isn’t eligible because of his lack of service time), as is their right under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Unrestricted free agent forward Noel Acciari is shopping around this week as well. Sweeney said the Bruins made him offers before the interview period.

Having just watched many of Boston’s top prospects face off in a scrimmage on the last day of development camp, Sweeney also reiterated his belief that there will be a chance for younger players to take jobs in training camp. Not only could there be openings because of departures, there could also be a chance to fill in where the Bruins will monitoring some players who played more than 100 games in 2018-19.

“Well I’d obviously like to bring back a team that won one more game to be perfectly honest with you. It’s never going to be the same team year to year. There’s always going to be changes that occur. Do we feel comfortable? I think we have a really good hockey team, I think they proved it throughout the course of last year,” Sweeney said.

“I would like to continue to see our hockey team improve in areas, and I would like to see, I mean there are several [young> players as I referenced that would look at the potential exits of – again I’m not saying Marcus is leaving or Noel is leaving – but there might be opportunity there. And there are several players that really should have their eyes wide open and be able to take the next step. And sometimes that’s what it takes to get you over.”

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