Sweeney told NHL.com Friday that contract talks between Marchand and the Bruins have begun with one year remaining on the veteran’s current four-year, $18-million deal. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
“I think I’ve been pretty up front that I’d like to be aggressive in trying to identify [core players],” Sweeney said at Bruins development camp Friday. “We have identified [Marchand] as a core guy and we want to continue down that path. Obviously it takes two sides to make a deal. I would envision that he’d like to be a part of this organization for what could arguably be his whole career.”
The Bruins spent considerable dollars on returning defenceman Torey Krug (four years, $21 million) and incoming free agent David Backes (five years, $30 million) and have just under $7 million in remaining cap space. At the moment, Backes, Bergeron, Krejci and Zdeno Chara must be protected for the upcoming expansion draft that is under a year away.
“I think we’re an improved hockey club,” Sweeney said. “We identified some areas we wanted to make sure we were deeper at, certainly in the middle of the ice, penalty killing. We wanted a little more balance on our back end to be able to have some transitional play involved and getting back on pucks, moving pucks.”
The Bruins have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.