By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins have some work to do to improve their roster for next season, and they may have to look outside the organization to do it.
One of the team’s clear needs is a second-line left winger to park next to David Krejci. It appears that the team has decided that Matt Beleskey won’t be that guy. Ideally, the hope is that a prospect like Jake DeBrusk can step in and seize that role – but Neely wouldn’t rule out that a prospect or package of prospects could ultimately be part of a trade.
“We’ve had an opportunity to really see what we have coming up,” Neely said on Tuesday during his end-of-season media availability. “And maybe it gives us an opportunity to … add somewhere else in a sense where, if something was appealing for us where we’re getting a younger player but with some experience, we may have the assets to be able to do that.”
At the same time, Neely virtually ruled out the Bruins dipping into the free agency pool for anything major.
“Right now I don’t really anticipate a busy free-agent period, but we’ll see what transpires throughout the course of the offseason,” said Neely. “But right now, I don’t envision that. We’ll get through the expansion draft then reevaluate.”
Don Sweeney’s trades at the NHL level have not worked out as well as the Bruins’ drafting since he became GM in 2015. Despite the Dougie Hamilton trade appearing to yield a number of good prospects that could help the Bruins in the near future, the original return on the deal was underwhelming to say the least. He also burned two second-round picks and a third-round pick in trades for Brett Connolly and Zac Rinaldo.
So the thought of another trade, especially one that could actually involve some legit prospects, may concern Bruins fans this offseason. Neely acknowledged that Sweeney’s initial moves may not have been his best, but said that they are all part of the experience as a first-time GM – and expressed confidence in Sweeney moving forward.
“I know how hard [Sweeney works]. His work ethic is second-to-none,” said Neely. “I think he’s done a really good job of directing certain people in the organization to what we’re going for and where the team is right now. And the future, I think, is bright.”
If Sweeney makes more trades this offseason, they’ll hopefully be better than the moves he made in year one. And they may be the only way the Bruins can immediately improve in their biggest areas of need.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.