By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins and restricted free agent forward Sean Kuraly have a "done deal" in place for a three-year extension, according to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal. Divver had previously reported that the B's and Kuraly were making progress on a new contract.
Kuraly was a dependable fourth-line center for the Bruins in 2017-18, averaging 12:13 time on ice and pitching in with 14 points in 75 games. He's also been a surprisingly clutch playoff performer, with four goals in 16 career playoff games despite limited ice time. He most memorably scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, in Game 5 against the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 playoffs.
Though the deal has yet to be made official, Bruins GM Don Sweeney acknowledged in his Sunday press conference that the two sides had "really good discussions" and that the B's intend "to find a good spot" for him. A three-year deal would suggest that Sweeney and the Bruins have a big-picture plan for Kuraly in the lineup - and that could mean he's first in line to bump up to third-line center, one of the team's top openings.
"We have some young players that certainly want that [third-line center] slot, and we have a couple of guys internally that I think can move up and play that slot," Sweeney said. "Sean Kuraly is certainly a player that wants to have a bigger role, and then you have the three younger players that we feel, and we also have a couple of other guys that we’ve added to the group that we’re going to go to work with and see where they fit in."
The hope is that Sweeney isn't "Pulling a Peter Chiarelli" with this extension for Kuraly. He's certainly a solid player and the Bruins must like his size (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) down the middle, but it's a question of whether he's worth more than $1-2 million per season - or talented enough to play more than a fourth-line role. Clearly, Boston likes him enough to keep him in the fold for most of the remaining window they have with their core stars.
UPDATE (Tuesday, 12:05 p.m.): The Bruins officially announced Kuraly's extension, which is for three years and $1.275 million annually. Good value for him, no matter where he ends up in the lineup.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].
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