Sweeney explains Hamilton trade: ‘We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer’

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SUNRISE — First Dougie Hamilton was traded to Calgary, with nothing but draft picks coming back. Then Milan Lucic was traded to Los Angeles, for a pick, a prospect, and a backup goalie.

As the hockey world gathered inside BB&T Center for the draft, everyone wanted to know — what were the Boston Bruins doing?

The biggest mystery surrounded Hamilton, the 22-year-old pending restricted free agent whom Bruins GM Don Sweeney labeled a “foundational-type player.”

Was it the fear of an offer sheet that led Sweeney to pull the trigger on the trade with the Flames?

“I wasn’t necessarily afraid of the offer sheet,” said Sweeney. “I thought that we’d be able to get into a position to match.

“We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer, and it didn’t lead us to where we thought we’d be able to, with him being comfortable being a part of our group long-term. So that sort of changed the course a little bit.”

Sweeney was asked why he felt Hamilton, considered one of the best young defensemen in the league, wouldn’t be comfortable staying in Boston.

“We extended a long-term deal to pursue that,” said Sweeney. “I think everyone considers Dougie as a foundational-type player, and it was indicated to us that that might not be the case going forward in Boston.”

So, he wanted out?

“No, he didn’t ask out,” Sweeney insisted. “We were in a position where we felt we would be better-served to move in a different direction.”

Okay.

Despite the loss of Hamilton and Lucic, the Bruins’ expectations remain to make the playoffs.

“With our goaltending, with the core group of our guys, our strength up the middle of the ice,” said Sweeney. “We had players that didn’t score to the level they were supposed to last year.

“Are we going to continue to look to improve our club? Absolutely.”