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Bruins talking with at least one internal free agent

June 5, 2024, 6:16 PM ET [14 Comments]
Ty Anderson
Boston Bruins Blogger •Bruins Feature Columnist • RSSArchiveCONTACT
With nine pending unrestricted free agents on his NHL roster, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney knows that a busy summer is on deck.

And it appears that Sweeney is trying to get a head start on that workload with an early start on potential extension talks with at least one of them, with the Bruins set to talk with Danton Heinen and his camp in the next week, according to a new report from The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta.

Signed to a one-year, $775,000 contract in late October after hanging around Boston on a pro tryout agreement, Heinen put together a solid 2023-24 season for the Bruins, with 17 goals and 36 points in 74 games. His 17 goals were his most since a career-high 18 with the Penguins in 2021-22, while his 36 points were his most since a career-high 47 points with the Bruins in 2017-18.

“I think looking back to where it started – starting on a tryout and the way it kind of played out – I would say it's been a positive season considering the way it started out,” Heinen, who turns 29 this summer, admitted at break-up day last month. “There's different parts of business and everything, but I was grateful to be here and be a part of it and be part of this group.”

A jack-of-all-trades type, Heinen also bounced around the Boston lineup and never seemed to actively make a line worse when thrown onto it for a shift, period, or month. That skill in particular made Heinen an invaluable piece of a Boston lineup that underwent significant turnover from a failed all-in season in 2022-23. Same for Jim Montgomery’s comfort with and belief in Heinen’s game going back to their time together at the University of Denver.

Talking at the end of the year, Heinen made it clear that his preference was to sign an extension with the Bruins before the start of free agency, and sounded hopeful that it could happen. Given what he went through a year ago, Heinen’s eagerness to hammer out a deal is hardly shocking, and his desire to remain with Boston should make for an easier negotiation for both parties involved.

What will be interesting to see as these talks unfold is what the Bruins are willing to offer and what Heinen is willing to concede and vice versa.

Given the way Heinen has bounced around of late, you have to think that the Bruins could save some dollars on the cap hit should they offer multiple years on his contract. There’s comfort in simply knowing you’re settled in one city. But given the other needs the Bruins have on the roster — this team needs a top-six center, another scoring wing, and maybe even another high-impact defenseman on the left side — the Bruins also know they can’t get into a bidding war for middle-six talent that maxes out somewhere around 17-20 goals and 40 points.

But with a mutual desire to get a deal done, this seems like one of the 'easier' negotiations facing the Bruins ahead of July 1.
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