Bruins

Could Peter Chiarelli have impact on David Pastrnak's contract talks with Bruins?

Could Peter Chiarelli have impact on David Pastrnak's contract talks with Bruins?

It’s been two full seasons since Peter Chiarelli was fired as the general manager of the Boston Bruins, but the former general manager still might have some say so over Boston’s salary cap situation moving forward. Chiarelli was pushed out in Boston as a result of a long stretch of poor drafts and some ill-advised contracts that edged the Bruins into salary cap trouble. 

He was almost immediately hired as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, and it’s in that capacity with his penchant for giving out generous deals that he might just put the screws once again to the Black and Gold. It all relates to the unresolved negotiations between the Bruins and 21-year-old restricted free agent David Pastrnak as he hits among a talented pool of RFA’s that haven’t yet been signed by their teams more than week since the July 1 open of free agency.

Don Sweeney said last weekend that he continues to speak with Pastrnak’s agent, JP Barry, and the hope is that the Bruins will close a long term deal with him sooner rather than later. 

“Just had some talks this week with [Pastrnak’s] group and hopefully that will lead to a resolution at some point in time, in the near future, but we have no timeline,” said Sweeney, while speaking on the final day of Bruins development camp at Warrior Ice Arena. 

To recap Pastrnak’s situation, there is virtually zero danger of an offer sheet being extended for an RFA in the world of the NHL, so the Bruins aren’t in a whole lot of real danger of that happening with their game-breaking right winger. Furthermore, the B’s have north of $13 million in salary cap space open to match any offer sheets that did theoretically materialize as they enter the typically quiet period of the NHL offseason. 

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Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said that progress was being made on a deal that would pay Pastrnak something just shy, both in term and AAV (average annual value), of the eight year, $49 million contract signed by Brad Marchand last fall. Something more in the neighborhood of six years, $36 million was thought to be what Pastrnak was looking at prior to Connor McDavid, Carey Price and Evgeny Kuznetsov all signing big money deals over the last few weeks.

It sounds like the Bruins have gone from encouraging progress to not much happening since McDavid, Price and Kuznetsov, among others, agreed to inflated deals that may lift the waters for free agent boats around the league when it comes to elite players looking for new contracts. None of them are straight-up comparable players to Pastrnak after his breakout campaign saw him net 34 goals and 70 points last season, but the bottom line is that elite, game-breaking players are seeing spikes to their market value.  

Getting back to Chiarelli and the Oilers, one player that is a direct comparable to Pastrnak is fellow 21-year-old restricted free agent center Leon Draisaitl. The young top flight Edmonton center is still unsigned after McDavid got his $12 million plus per year contract, and there were even mild Draisaitl trade whispers that the Oil won’t be able to afford both of those talented young centers.

Both Pastrnak and Draisaitl were first round picks from the same 2014 draft class, both had breakout third campaigns with comparable numbers and both have been brilliant performers on the international stage over the last couple of seasons. So it makes perfect sense that the hold-up for Pastrnak with the Bruins is simply waiting for Draisaitl to sign with the Oilers, and seeing if he sets a bigger, more lucrative market for his fellow restricted free agents. 

It could very well be that the talented, well-regarded Draisaitl tops $7 million in AAV with the Oilers when it’s all said and done, and that forces Sweeney and the B’s into inflating the final salary numbers for Pastrnak before it’s a done deal. Clearly the Bruins are going to do whatever it takes to lock down a player in Pastrnak that they see as a big building block for the franchise’s future, and that means paying more than they’d like to if it comes to that. 

It would just be the ultimate in hockey irony if it’s another helping of Chiarelli largesse in contract negotiations that ends up costing the B’s once again in the end.

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

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David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

TORONTO – The Bruins top line totaled up 20 points in the first two games, and the B’s took both of those against the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had zero points in Game 3 on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, and the Bruins ended up dropping that game to the Leafs. 

So clearly the Bruins’ playoff fate could be strongly tied to the ebbs and flow of their top forward trio, but the hope with the B’s is that the formula won’t be that simple throughout the postseason. A big part of the reason the Bruins gave up a boatload to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash was to acquire another forward capable of shouldering a scoring load, and turn Boston’s second line into a much more dangerous group. 

All three members of the B’s second line, David Krejci, Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk, all have goals during the best-of-seven series, but they also came up empty in Game 3 with Krejci and DeBrusk only managing two shots on net between them. They know that they’re capable of more given the offensive talent on the ice, and given that so much defensive attention is being paid to neutralizing Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak rather than them. 

“We had lots of good looks. I missed a couple. We had lots of good looks that just didn’t go in,” said Krejci. “So we need to work extra harder [in Game 4] to bury those chances and have them end up in the back of the net. We need to stick to the game plan and respect the game plan.”

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Nash had five shots on net and some pretty good chances, but the best scoring chance was a DeBrusk dangle and pass to Krejci wide open at the net. It looked like the puck hit a rut on the ice and Krejci was never able to settle it down for a shot despite the nice-looking pass, so that line is left biding their team for another chance to carry the offense. 

“I think that’s the main reason why we’re the second line. We all have attributes that can help this team. It hasn’t really come to the table yet, but I still thought that we generated chances [in Game 3], and I think our whole team did. It just wasn’t bouncing our way,” said DeBrusk. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time you take the positives from it. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to get harder from here on in. Hopefully our top line does their thing, but if not then we’ll be ready to hopefully help out in that category.”

The Bruins top line is ready, willing and able to shoulder the lion’s share of the scoring burden for the Black and Gold, and most nights they’re going to be able to live up to that kind of responsibility. But if the Bruins want to beat the good defensive teams and become a much more difficult team to play against in the postseason, they’re going to need to start getting production from a second line that should be built to play the power, puck possession game in the postseason.

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

TORONTO – At some point, they’re going to have to start thinking about re-naming the award after Patrice Bergeron himself.

The Bruins center was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night for the seventh consecutive season, and is going for his NHL-record fifth trophy for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist along with Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Bergeron finished his 12th NHL season with 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with 26 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 64 games.

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He ranked fifth in the league in faceoff win percentage (57.3, min. 1,000 face-offs), 12th in face-offs won (784), third in even strength faceoff win percentage (58.0, min. 500 face-offs won) and first in shorthanded faceoff win percentage (58.3, min. 50 face-offs won). The 32-year-old forward also ranked second overall in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), with a 57.56%, which should make the fancy stat nerds very happy.

Some might argue there other more worthy candidates given that Bergeron missed 18 games due to injury this season, but he was also the center of a line that didn’t give up an even strength goal until January while putting up his customarily excellent stats. That being said, a guy like Aleksander Barkov also deserved plenty of consideration outside the top-3 finalists that all come in with equally strong chances of taking home the award.

Bergeron has won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If he wins the year's Selke Trophy, he will break the record held by four-time winner and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. The Selke Award is given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season, and will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.

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