By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The GM of the Year has his work cut out for him.
In a summer of restricted free agent gridlock, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has done everything but hammer out new deals for restricted free agent defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. That remains the case, too, even after Sweeney took care of another housekeeping item on Wednesday, signing head coach Bruce Cassidy to a multi-year extension (believed to have added an extra three years on to his current deal at $3 million per season).
“Still works in progress,” Sweeney said Wednesday when asked for an update on the contract talks with Carlo and McAvoy. “We continue to communicate every day and hopeful that we can find the right landing spot for both players. Obviously, they are important to our hockey club and we’re going to keep working at it.”
The bad news for Sweeney and the Bruins, though, is that the situation with Carlo and McAvoy are just hours from officially moving into “holdout” territory, as the Bruins will officially open training camp at 12 p.m. on Thursday. This is far from ideal, especially with the Bruins looking to begin 2019-20 off on the right foot after coming within one victory of a Stanley Cup last June, and with Cassidy and Sweeney looking for a “complete” camp from their roster.
A “holdout” is not exactly foreign to Sweeney, though, as David Pastrnak held out of training camp for a whole 45 minutes or so before coming to terms on a long-term deal with the Bruins in Sept. 2017.
As of right now, the three-year, $15 million deal struck between the Blue Jackets and Zach Werenski earlier this week seems to be the closest comp for McAvoy. Carlo, meanwhile, is in a rather odd spot as a career-long top four defenseman who has proven to be a strong penalty killer, but has never amassed more than 16 points in any of his three NHL seasons to date. Given the way the league has shifted to a more up-tempo, offense-oriented style, finding significant or justifiable paydays for players whose best work comes from the d-zone is often a tricky game.
The Bruins would prefer not to go long-term with either player, as they would like to have team-control over each player as a restricted free agent opposed to unrestricted free agency when their second contract expires.
Sweeney and the Bruins have just over $8 million in available cap space.