The 2020-21 NHL season hasn’t appeared on the horizon yet, but Don Sweeney already is taking care of business for the campaign.
The Boston Bruins general manager explained to reporters Saturday in a conference call why signing Jaroslav Halak to a contract extension was a priority for the team. Halak declined free agency by inking a new deal Friday, allowing the Bruins to keep one of the NHL’s premier goaltending tandems intact and focus on shoring up other areas of the roster ahead of next season.
“Sweeney also acknowledged that Halak’s willingness to get deal done now (1 year, $2.25 million) gives #NHLBruins some certainty heading into uncertain offseason with regard to cap,” CLNS Media’s Mike Petraglia wrote in a tweet.
Sweeney also acknowledged that Halak's willingness to get deal done now (1 year, $2.25 million) gives #NHLBruins some certainty heading into uncertain offseason with regard to cap.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) May 2, 2020
While the measure of salary-cap certainty will benefit Boston off the ice, Sweeney also believes retaining Halak’s dependability as Tuukka Rask’s backup might prove crucial if the NHL compresses its schedule next season.
“‘We could be facing a complex schedule (2020-21)'” Sweeney said, per The Athletic’s Joe McDonald. “(Sweeney) Added it was important to have Halak back in the mix.”
Sweeney: ?We could be facing a complex schedule (2020-21).? Added it was important to have Halak back in the mix.
— Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey) May 2, 2020
Sweeney also said Halak’s return gives the Bruins’ trio of promising young goalkeepers — Jeremey Swayman, Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser — more time to develop into ready-made replacements for either of Boston’s veteran goalies.
“All three of our young goaltenders — we’re very excited about,” Sweeney said, per Boston Sports Journal’s Conor Ryan.
Sweeney noted that re-signing Halak also allows Vladar, Swayman and Keyser to develop further before making the jump up to the NHL:
?All three of our young goaltenders ? we?re very excited about.?
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 2, 2020
Don Sweeney said if either Tuukka Rask or Jaroslav Halak go through injuries, he feels confident in any of the younger goalies [Jeremey Swayman, Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser] to suit up for NHL games.
— Matt Castle (@Matt_Castle22) May 2, 2020
Sweeney’s comments bolster the case for Halak’s return making sense for the player and team.