of the meets with the media following the NHL General managers Meetings at the Bellagio Las Vegas on June 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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The Bruins still haven’t added that ‘transitional’ defenseman they wanted

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If there was one thing the Boston Bruins were going to do this offseason, it was upgrade their blue line.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” team president Cam Neely said in April. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

But the Bruins’ blue line hasn’t changed one bit since then. Their search for a “transitional” defenseman lost another candidate this morning when the Panthers traded Dmitry Kulikov to Buffalo. Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski have already been snapped up.

The Blues still haven’t traded Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price for d-men of his caliber is extremely high, according to Boston GM Don Sweeney.

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” Sweeney said Friday, per CSN New England. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.”

It may be that Sweeney’s hoping the Blues lower their price on Shattenkirk, who’s only got a year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Or maybe he targets Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler. But they won’t be any cheaper.

If the prices are too high in the trade market, options in free agency include Brian Campbell (but he’s 37), Dan Hamhuis (he’s not particularly young either), and Jason Demers (arguably the best right-shot UFA d-man, but in no danger of winning the Norris).

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way,” said Sweeney. “We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

Related: Jack Edwards says the Bruins’ blue line ‘is in a crisis right now’

Bruins GM Don Sweeney isn’t interested in trading David Pastrnak

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates a goal against the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden on March 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins are in the market for an established puck-moving defenseman. Don Sweeney tried to land one during the first round of Friday night’s draft, but the prices were steep.

Several reports had the Bruins linked to Blues blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, who still hasn’t been traded. There’s a chance the Bruins could still land Shattenkirk (or someone else), but they aren’t willing to sacrifice a youngster like David Pastrnak in the process.

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, per CSN New England. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there.

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way. We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

After dealing Dougie Hamilton to Calgary last year, it’s no surprise that Sweeney is a lot more cautious about shipping young assets out of town.

Not only did the Bruins keep Pastrnak, they also kept their two first round picks in 2016. They selected Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy 14th overall and center Trent Frederic 29th overall.

Report: Eriksson, Bruins aren’t close to deal, will try once more

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 28:  Loui Eriksson #21 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning  at TD Garden on February 28, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins and Loui Eriksson aren’t close to a new deal, so the forward is expected to hit the free agent market, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Lavoie reports that the Bruins and Eriksson can’t see eye-to-eye on the length of the contract.

A few days ago, Eriksson’s agent admitted that he was still waiting on a new offer from the Bruins. It looks like the two sides are far apart, whether an updated proposal came or not.

The 30-year-old forward would likely draw considerable interest as an unrestricted free agent, with teams like the Vancouver Canucks reportedly interested.

Concussion issues were a key component in Eriksson’s early struggles with Boston, limiting him to 61 games played in 2013-14. He really came into his own with the Bruins in 2015-16, generating 30 goals and 63 points.

That production and Boston’s hopeful drive toward a playoff spot forced Bruins management to be picky about a potential trade, and nothing worked out.

Whether fans feel like it was a mistake in keeping him through the trade deadline or not, it sounds like Eriksson’s time with the Bruins will soon come to an end.

The B’s, for their part, seem more concerned about bolstering their defense.

GM Don Sweeney will speak with the media shortly, so PHT will note if anything changes (or if he confirms that Eriksson will become a UFA).

Update: The Bruins will give it another try, for what it’s worth:

In other free agent news:

Report: Oilers, Bruins have spoken to Blues about Shattenkirk

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 13: Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the St Louis Blues skates against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 13, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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It’s no secret that the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins are two teams that have the same need. Both organizations are looking to add a a quality puck-moving defenseman. According to ESPN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, both have inquired about Kevin Shattenkirk‘s availability.

“The Blues are in a pretty good position of strength to probably move Shattenkirk…in an off-season in which there are a lot of teams looking for D,” said LeBrun on TSN 1040 radio. “Think of the Boston Bruins, think of the Edmonton Oilers. Those are among the teams that have already spoken to St. Louis here of late regarding Kevin Shattenkirk.”

Shattenkirk is under contract for one more season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The 27-year-old was a key piece of the team that made it to the Western Conference final this past postseason. He had 14 goals and 44 points in 72 games during the regular season and he added two goals and 11 points in 20 games during the playoffs.

Signing Shattenkirk to an extension isn’t necessarily out of the question for St. Louis. But with Alex Pietrangelo locked up for four more years and Jay Bouwmeester signed for three more seasons, extending him will be tough. Also, forwards like Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera are all locked up for multiple seasons at high dollar amounts.

The Blues also need to come to terms with RFA Jaden Schwartz this off-season.

Related:

–Blues and pending UFA Backes ‘haven’t been able to find that common ground’

Blues check Jaskin off big list of summer signings 

It sounds like Vladimir Sobotka rejoin the Blues next season

(h/t: The Score)

Eriksson’s camp still hasn’t received a new offer from the Bruins

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 12:  Loui Eriksson #21 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden on November 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins have less than two weeks to come to terms on a new contract with Loui Eriksson before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

The Bruins and Eriksson’s camp have been in conversation quite regularly, but it doesn’t seem like a deal is close, according to the player’s agent.

“Don (Sweeney) and I have been in regular communication,” Eriksson’s agent J.P. Barry told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. “We were expecting a new offer from the club at some point but we haven’t received one yet. I’m sure we will speak again prior to the draft about their intentions.”

Boston already made several sweeping changes at last year’s draft when they shipped Milan Lucic to Los Angeles and Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. But another year out of the postseason will likely see the team tweak the roster some more. The question is will Eriksson be one of those players on his way out of town?

The Bruins won’t look very good if they make him leave for nothing. While the B’s were battling for they playoff lives in February, not only did GM Don Sweeney keep all his potential free agents, but he also traded draft picks for rental players like Lee Stempniak.

At the same time, Boston’s priority will almost certainly be to add a mobile defenseman (or two) to their back end. Can they acquire the defenseman they’re looking for and pay Loui Eriksson? That remains to be seen.

Boston has roughly $20 million in cap space, according to General Fanager. That’s a pretty good chunk of change, but they only have nine forwards, four defensemen and one goalie under contract for next season (excluding prospects).