Don Sweeney: Bruins Would Consider Keeping Loui Eriksson Without Extension

BOSTON — It’s possible Bruins winger Loui Eriksson could remain with the team through Monday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline even if he hasn’t signed a contract extension.

Eriksson is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 if he doesn’t re-sign with Boston, but Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said before Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden that he would consider keeping the 30-year-old forward without reaching an extension by the deadline.

“Absolutely,” Sweeney said. “… Loui’s an impactful player on our hockey club, and I would have continuing negotiations with him as such.”

The B’s have a few options to consider as the deadline nears: They could re-sign Eriksson, trade him and get some assets in return to avoid the risk he leaves in free agency for nothing, or keep him through the deadline even without a contract. The final scenario would give the sides more time to figure out a deal, as Sweeney noted above, in addition to helping the Bruins in their pursuit of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Sweeney, whose preference is “to try and sign” Eriksson, also said the Bruins have “made offers to Loui” but “haven’t been able to find a deal at this time.” Sweeney also said “there’s a gap” to bridge, but he wouldn’t specify if that involved money, contract length or both.

Sweeney was asked about the impact of potentially trading Eriksson, and he admitted it would be a “significant” one. It’s not hard to see why that would be the case.

The Swedish winger ranks second on the Bruins in scoring with 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in 62 games. He’s also driving puck possession at 5-on-5 with a 51.98 Corsi percentage — only Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand rank higher among B’s forwards. Eriksson’s contributions to both the power play and penalty kill units are valuable as well.

Sweeney also said replacing Eriksson, if needed, could be done in a few different ways.

“We’d have to look to make sure that whether internally we have some guys that can help, but more than likely, you’d have to bring in a player, whether it’s in one move or in subsequent moves, that would be able to fill that gap,” Sweeney said. “To me, it would be a big loss for our hockey club.”

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

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