Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton has already made up his mind on what he wants his future to look like.
Clifton, who is heading into unrestricted free agency, wants to remain with Boston. But he knows that decision is mostly out of hands and up to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who has plenty of roster decisions to make this offseason.
“That’s right. I love it here,” Clifton said during Tuesday’s exit interview day at Warrior Ice Arena. “Me and (Sweeney) had a good talk this morning in our meeting. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
Clifton revealed he has yet to have contract discussions with the Bruins, mainly because the 28-year-old thought he would be playing hockey well into the spring and wanted to focus on that first.
“No, not really. I was hoping to do that late June, honestly,” Clifton said. “Obviously, with the early departure there’s a lot more time for that in the coming weeks. But no, haven’t talked too much about it yet.”
Clifton put together a career season this year and proved to be a key cog in the Bruins’ defensive corps during the regular season. The fifth-year pro easily surpassed his career highs with five goals and 18 assists for 23 points. But things came off the rails for Clifton in the postseason. He played in only three games in the first-round series against the Florida Panthers and was benched for Game 7 after recording a minus-3 in a Game 6 defeat.
Yet, Clifton seemed to get good vibes from his meeting with Sweeney.
“We kind of talked about the past couple years, especially this year,” Clifton said. “He was proud of the regular season I had. Obviously, I think we both wished the postseason for me went a little better. He obviously has a lot of work to do, he said. He hopes I’m part of what we’re building for the future.”
That feeling certainly is mutual for Clifton, who had nothing but glowing praise for the time he has spent with the Bruins thus far.
“It’s a privilege to put on that crest and to compete with guys around this room,” Clifton said. “It’s something I’ll never take for granted.”