Don Sweeney doesnt land big name, but fills needs – Boston Herald

As far as proven talent goes, Bruins GM Don Sweeney may not have made the same splash that he did two years ago when he landed Rick Nash. He didnt pull off the same roster-transforming moves he did last year when he solidified the middle of the ice with the acquisition of Charlie Coyle and added wing Marcus Johansson.

But considering some of the big fish linked to the Bs never went anywhere, Sweeney had himself another pretty good NHL trade deadline in what he was able to accomplish, both for the present and the future. Chris Kreider re-signed with the Rangers. Kyle Palmieri stayed put in New Jersey. Even sentimental favorite Joe Thornton chose to stay home in San Jose.

Meanwhile, Sweeney was able to address a couple needs at least in theory. On Friday, he got the right-shooting, shoot-first type of wing theyve been looking for seemingly forever in Ondrej Kase. It may require a lot of finger- and toe-crossing so that he stays healthy, but Kase has the potential we repeat, potential to be a home run with his skill level. At Mondays trade deadline, Sweeney addressed the teams size-and-snarl deficiency by obtaining 6-2, 230-pound Nick Ritchie. On top of that, Sweeney was able to give himself a little leeway in cap space moving forward by jettisoning the contracts of Danton Heinen in the Ritchie deal and 75% of David Backes deal in the Kase trade that also cost them a first round pick and mid-level prospect Axel Andersson.

That they are better today than they were on Friday morning is hard to deny. Backes had been in purgatory (his term) for the past month while the Bs searched for a trade partner and Danton Heinen, who had so much promise as a rookie two years ago and is still a versatile puzzle piece that could be missed down the road, was struggling and trending toward being a healthy scratch after the Kase deal.

Just how much better is something well just have to see.

Sweeney feels he bolstered a first-place team that has shown him a lot this year.

Ive been proud of our group. Where they were in losing a Game 7 last year and where they are today, I think they should be proud of themselves. But I do believe at this time of year, if you have the opportunity to look at areas to improve your hockey club and add depth, you have to do that, said Sweeney. As of today, were a fairly healthy group and hopefully it remains as such and weve maintained our depth, addressing some areas we felt we needed to. Secondary scoring is always so important and it was valuable to us in the playoffs last year and we believe that Ondrej will provide some of that with the speed element to his game. And now Nick on the other side to be able to complement, hopefully, if he goes in plays with Charlie Coyle, those are two big guys that are hard to contain. Anders (Bjork) will flip over to the other side. Karson (Kuhlman) is a part of that. And we have players in Providence that are playing very well who could come up and provide depth.

While there was money saved (a little over $3 million), presumably with an eye toward re-signing some of his own free agent class headed by Torey Krug, these moves were made because of whats in front of them this season, Sweeney stressed.

Theyre all variables, but I dont think thats our intention. Were a cap team and were likely to have overages based on being a cap team and some of the injuries weve had during the course of the season, said Sweeney, who is still hoping Kevan Miller will come off long-term injured reserve at some point this season, though theres no timeline. Were trying to address the needs of our hockey club, first and foremost, and we tried to do that with these two acquisitions.

As for the Krug negotiations, Sweeney did not tip his hand, but a deal didnt sound imminent.

Weve had talks. Theyve been very cordial. Both sides understand where they are. Whether or not we can bridge something along those lines is to be determined, said Sweeney.

Though Heinen was not having a good year, he has been able to play up in the lineup and on both sides. But with Bjork and Kuhlman still in the fold, there was some redundancy with similar third line-type players. Ritchie is a different kind of player. While he hasnt fought in almost two years, he is capable. And whether its a coincidence or not, hes tangled with some of tough customers whove recently gone to Eastern Conference contenders, including Kyle Clifford (Toronto), Zach Bogosian (Tampa) and Brenden Dillon (Washington). Nick, of course, is the younger brother of Brett, who was given the opportunity to be the same kind of presence with the Bs and wound up in Providence.

I knew Id get asked the question, Did I get the right Ritchie this time? said Sweeney with a smile. We do believe he adds an element to our hockey club that we didnt have prior to today and were happy about it. Theres some big-bodied hockey thats going to be played going forward.

And now the Bs are better equipped to play that kind of hockey. Again, in theory.

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Don Sweeney doesnt land big name, but fills needs - Boston Herald

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