The GM worked this year on an expiring contract, which would have made him an unrestricted free agent on July 13. Team president Cam Neely said May 19 he wanted to “sit down with Don in the next day or two and hopefully hammer something out,” but it apparently has taken until now to do so.
At the time, Neely said he wanted to assess the 2021-22 season before committing to his lame-duck GM. The two had an understanding that he would continue to try to improve the club.
“We had a lot of changes last offseason,” Neely said. “I wanted to see how that played out. January, February, March were really good months for us. The team really came together. We had a lot of depth. And I was happy with what he did at the deadline.”
Members of Bruins management were not available for comment after the deal was announced. Sweeney and Neely are scheduled to speak to reporters July 6 at the NHL draft in Montreal.
In a statement Monday, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs noted that the team has been one of the “winningest franchises in the league and a perennial playoff contender” under Sweeney’s leadership.
“While we recognize there is work to be done to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston,” Jacobs said, “I’m confident that Don’s commitment to being best-in-class on and off the ice will help us climb that mountain once again.”
Sweeney, the eighth GM in franchise history, replaced the fired Peter Chiarelli in May 2015. In his seven seasons in the corner office, the Bruins are 313-162-61 (.584), and have averaged 105 points per 82 games. They made the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 — when Sweeney was named NHL GM of the Year — and reached the playoffs in each of the last six seasons. In the Eastern Conference, only Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Washington have a playoff streak of six seasons or longer.
The Bruins, however, are coming off a first-round exit at the hands of the Hurricanes, and two second-round exits before that.
Sweeney’s trades have largely worked out — most recently Hampus Lindholm and Taylor Hall, acquired at the trade deadlines of 2022 and 2021 — but his free agent signings and drafting, particularly early in his GM career, have been less than strong.
He opened his tenure with the 2015 draft, in which he selected Jakub Zboril (13th overall), Jake DeBrusk (14th), and Zach Senyshyn (15th) ahead of future All-Stars Mathew Barzal (16th), Kyle Connor (17th), and Thomas Chabot (18th). His biggest UFA additions in his first two years were Matt Beleskey (five years, $19 million in 2015) and David Backes (six years, $30 million in 2016).
His most recent free agent class included the declining Nick Foligno (two years, $7.6 million), though goalie Linus Ullmark (four years, $20 million), Erik Haula (two years, $4.75 million), Derek Forbort (three years, $9 million), and Tomas Nosek (two years, $3.5 million) provided fair value.
Sweeney, 55, was an eighth-round draft pick (166th overall) of the Bruins in 1984. The Harvard alum played 15 of his 16 NHL seasons in Boston, logging 1,052 games here. He joined the club’s hockey operations staff in 2006, became assistant GM in 2009, and spent 2014-15 as GM of AHL Providence.