Boston Bruins, Charles Barkley, Column, Connor Clifton, Don Sweeney, Mason Lohrei, News and Rumors

Bruins News & Rumors: Sweeney, Clifton, Lohrei & Charles Barkley

In this latest edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney was transparent with reporters about what to expect from the club this offseason. Meanwhile, pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Connor Clifton provided an update about his contract talks with the club. In other news, the Bruins have officially signed one of their best prospects, Mason Lohrei, to an entry-level deal. Lastly, the Bruins’ epic first-round collapse has now led them to being roasted by former NBA star and Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley.

Sweeney Says Changes Are Coming to Bruins’ Roster

The Bruins are heading into the offseason with plenty of questions. After going all-in this season, they failed to win a round, and now they have some major decisions to make. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are retirement candidates. They have several pending UFAs in Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Foligno, Garnet Hathaway, Tomas Nosek, and Clifton. With that, Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic are restricted free agents due for new deals. Yet, the Bruins simply do not have the money to bring everyone back, and Sweeney had this to say because of it: “Roster changes are coming. We’re not going to be the same team.”

Don Sweeney Boston Bruins
Don Sweeney, General Manager of the Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is not surprising in the slightest, but Sweeney has now warned us to prepare for a much different Bruins club in 2023-24. He also noted that younger players will have bigger opportunities next season. Nevertheless, this makes their first-round exit even more disappointing.

Contract Talks Quiet Between Clifton & Bruins

As noted above, Clifton is one of the many pending UFAs heading toward the summer. Although the 28-year-old defenseman has made it clear that he would love to remain a Bruin, he recently noted that he and the club have yet to begin contract talks. He also said that he “was hoping to do that late June, honestly.”

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It will be intriguing to see if the Bruins look to bring back Clifton from here. Although he struggled immensely during the postseason, he also had the best regular season of his career and cemented himself as a legitimate bottom-pairing NHL defenseman. In 78 games on the year, the New Jersey native set new career highs with five goals, 18 assists, 23 points, and a plus-20 rating.

In the end, Clifton has earned himself a raise, but Boston’s limited cap space will make it challenging for them to bring him back.

Bruins Sign Lohrei

Speaking of younger players, the Bruins have officially signed Lohrei to a two-year, entry-level contract. This is notable news, as Lohrei is one of the Bruins’ top prospects, and he could be in the mix for a spot on their NHL roster as soon as next season. However, it also would not hurt for him to spend at least a year in the American Hockey League (AHL) to work on his craft.

Mason Lohrei Green Bay Gamblers
Mason Lohrei, Green Bay Gamblers (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

After posting a 29-point campaign in 31 games with Ohio State University last season, Lohrei followed that up by recording 32 points in 40 games in 2022-23. Overall, the 6-foot-4 defenseman has shown that he can produce well from the point, and now it will be intriguing to see if it can translate over to the NHL. He also has been noted for his physical style of play, so perhaps he could make a big impact in the future for Boston.

Charles Barkley Roasts the Bruins

During halftime of the Boston Celtics’ eventual Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Charles Barkley, who is a big hockey fan, unexpectedly roasted the Bruins. This is what the Basketball Hall of Famer had to say when asked if there could be some nervous fans in Boston: “In fairness, if the Celtics lose this series, (Boston sports fans) still got the Bruins. Oh, sorry.” Ouch.

It is not too often that an NHL team gets trolled by a former NBA star, but alas, the 65-win Bruins managed to do so with their first-round collapse. We should expect to see more jeers thrown the Bruins’ way during the remainder of the playoffs and the offseason, but Barkley’s will certainly be among the most memorable.

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