Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney answers a question as coach Claude Julien sits next to him at during Boston Bruins media day, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 in Boston. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP)  BOSTON HERALD OUT, QUINCY OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Bruins will be ‘aggressive’ in pursuit of puck-mover

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The Boston Bruins are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of a “transitional” defenseman this offseason.

GM Don Sweeney understands it won’t be easy, given all the other teams that will be looking for the exact same thing, but he plans to pursue a puck-mover “either through free agency or through acquisitions.”

“It’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace,” Sweeney said today on a conference call. “But we’re going to be aggressive.”

The Bruins already have four defenseman under contract for next season: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, the latter of whom just signed a four-year, $10 million extension.

In addition to those four, Sweeney said he expects to get restricted free agent Torey Krug signed. Like Krug, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow are also RFAs.

That makes seven defensemen under club control. Given his desire to add at least one more, Sweeney was asked about trading either Seidenberg or McQuaid, to which he responded, “I’ll explore whatever I have to, in every way, shape and form to improve our club and find the balance we need.”

So expect another busy offseason in Boston. The Bruins have made no secret their intention to upgrade the blue line. As we wrote a month ago, expect the likes of Jacob Trouba, Matt Dumba, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tyson Barrie to be targeted, should any of those players become available via trade.

If it’s unrestricted free agency that Sweeney opts for, the list of potential targets includes Keith Yandle, Brian Campbell, Alex Goligoski, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Demers, and Kris Russell.

Related: Seidenberg doesn’t want to think about waiving no-trade

After one season with the Bruins, Kemppainen signs in KHL

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 18:  Joonas Kemppainen #41 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 18, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Joonas Kemppainen has signed a one-year contract in the KHL following one season with the Boston Bruins, according to CSNNE.com.

The Bruins originally signed Kemppainen, now 28 years old, to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000 at the NHL level, making him the first move of the Don Sweeney era as general manager in Boston after an impressive playoff performance in Finland.

From CSNNE.com:

Kemppainen was adequate enough in both areas while posting two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 44 games for the Black and Gold, but was a slow-skating offensive liability when given minutes as a third- and fourth-line center. In the end, the strengths simply didn’t outweigh the weaknesses for Kemppainen, who rotated in among Ryan Spooner, Chris Kelly and Max Talbot for the first few months of the NHL season while the Bruins gave him a chance to show his stuff.

Kemppainen also spent 11 games last season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League.

Vesey: ‘The Bruins will definitely be on my list’

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 23:  Jimmy Vesey #19 of the Harvard Crimson skates against the Boston College Eagles during the second period of the 2015 Beanpot Tournament consolation game at TD Garden on February 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Vesey is still a couple months away from being able to speak with NHL clubs, but that hasn’t stopped the reigning Hobey Baker winner from already shortlisting his hometown team.

“I think the Bruins will definitely be on my list of teams,” Vesey said on Monday at the Downtown Harvard Club, per the Boston Herald.

Vesey, 22, hasn’t been shy about his affinity for the B’s.

First, there was what he wrote for the Players’ Tribune back in February:

I can remember waking up for 5 a.m. mite hockey games with my dad when the sun wasn’t even up yet.  If I said I was tired, he’d say, “C’mon, Jimmy, someday this is all gonna be worth it.” Then on the way home we would pretend to announce my name as the first overall pick in my draft year.  Those days were the best; I still remember that stuff like it was yesterday.…

With the first pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft … the Boston Bruins are proud to select … from North Reading, Mass. … Jimmy Vesey.

Having played almost exclusively in Massachusetts over the last few years — Belmont Hill high school, South Shore Kings (USPHL) and Harvard — it’s not surprising that Vesey’s seriously considering sticking close to home.

And there’s no denying the Bruins would love to get Vesey in the fold. Coming off two terrific scoring campaigns at Harvard — 32 and 24 goals in his junior and senior seasons — Vesey is regarded as a future top-six NHL forward, and could bolster a Boston squad that’s failed to make the playoffs in consecutive years.

That top-six designation was something Vesey received from the GM that drafted him, Nashville’s David Poile.

Not surprisingly, Vesey had to discuss his spurning of the Preds on Monday night — when asked if he promised the Music City team that he’d sign with them, Vesey replied “no.”

He’s eligible to start talking with interested suitors on Aug. 15.

Related: Bruins sign Grezlcyk (who just so happens to be pals with Jimmy Vesey)

Malcolm Subban has sights set on Bruins’ back-up spot

Malcolm Subban
AP
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The Boston Bruins want a better back-up goalie. Team president Cam Neely said so a couple of weeks ago, essentially slamming the book shut on Jonas Gustavsson‘s time with the organization.

While it remains to be seen who will replace Gustavsson, Malcolm Subban thinks “for sure” that he’s ready for the job. The 22-year-old’s confidence is high, despite fracturing his larynx in February.

“If you don’t believe you’re able to do it, then you’re probably not going to do it,” Subban told the Boston Herald. “Personally, yeah, I think I’ve developed a lot over the these past three years, in spite of the injury. Only time will tell, and it’s not my decision. If I come to camp and don’t play well, then I’ll make their decision a lot easier.”

Speaking of training camp, it will be interesting to see what kind of competition Subban faces once it starts. Tuukka Rask will be there, obviously. But will GM Don Sweeney go out and add a proven backup this offseason?

Perhaps Sweeney could target somebody like Jhonas Enroth, who wasn’t exactly thrilled with his playing time in Los Angeles this past season. Or maybe even Chad Johnson, the last reliable backup the Bruins actually had. Both Enroth and Johnson are pending unrestricted free agents, just to throw a couple of names out there.  

This is no small decision for Sweeney. For a bubble team like the B’s, the back-up goalie can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Case in point, Subban’s only career NHL start arose late in 2014-15 because the B’s didn’t have anyone beyond Niklas Svedberg. The debut was a disaster for Subban, who allowed three goals on just six shots.

Another factor that Sweeney will need to consider is Subban’s development. Remember that the Bruins drafted Subban 24th overall in 2012. He was the second goalie taken that year (after Andrei Vasilevskiy went 19th to Tampa Bay), and he remains a very important prospect for the organization, either as a future starter or a potential trade chip.

In other words, if he’s not ready for the NHL, the Bruins shouldn’t force it.

Related: Malcolm Subban feels he’s ‘taken a huge step forward’ from last year

Where does the Bruins’ roster need to improve? Neely identifies three areas

Boston Bruins President Cam Neely, left, and Bruins Chief Executive Officer Charlie Jacobs prepare to leave a news conference in Boston, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, regarding the hockey team's decision to fire general manager Peter Chiarelli days after missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in eight years. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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The Boston Bruins held another press conference this morning. Six days after GM Don Sweeney and head coach Claude Julien had the floor, it was time to hear from owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, and president Cam Neely.

It was Neely who said the most. In addition to stating the obvious — that the Bruins were disappointed at how their season ended — he outlined three parts of the roster that needed to be addressed.

The first is the defense.

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

It’s no secret that the Bruins’ blue line has gone from a position of great strength to one of weakness. The departures of Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton left significant holes that have yet to be filled, so expect the likes of Jacob Trouba, Matt Dumba, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tyson Barrie to be targeted, should any of those players become available this offseason.

The two other parts are right wing (where Neely would like to get “heavier”) and backup goaltending (after Jonas Gustavsson failed to provide the B’s reliable netminding behind Tuukka Rask).

There was also this, about pending UFA Loui Eriksson:

And this, about Julien:

All in all, it should be an interesting offseason in Boston. We saw last summer that Sweeney is not afraid to wheel and deal, and after two straight missed postseasons, you can bet that Neely is feeling the heat himself.

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