Bruins

Bruins likely to reach agreement on long-term deal with Pastrnak

Bruins likely to reach agreement on long-term deal with Pastrnak

The good news is, the David Pastrnak contract negotiations are headed in the right direction.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said as much more than a week ago at the NHL scouting combine, where he updated reporters on contract talks with the impending restricted free agent. Pastrnak is looking at a major raise in pay in his second deal.

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“[Pastrnak’s agent] J.P. [Barry] and I have sat down, we’ve had some good discussions,” Sweeney said to reporters in Buffalo at the combine. “It’s moving in the right direction. Timeline, I don’t have. But we expect to complete a deal and for him to be a longtime member of the Boston Bruins. That’s our intention.”

Pastrnak, 21, exploded for 34 goals and 70 points in 75 games in his third NHL season, along with a plus-11 rating, while essentially playing as a top-6 trigger man for either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci. Pastrnak joined an elite group of players -- Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and Sidney Crosby -- with 30 goals and 60 points in a season prior to turning 21 since the salary cap was instituted in 2005.

The feeling is that Pastrnak is just scratching the surface of his potential, and could be an NHL superstar on par with some of those names in another couple of seasons.  

He struggled a bit, understandably, late in the season as opponents keyed on both him and Brad Marchand as Boston’s biggest offensive cogs. But he continued to show that he is every bit as important to the B’s future as fellow gifted youngster Charlie McAvoy.

Watching them hook up for a power-play goal in the the playoffs, one couldn’t help but picture them doing that again and again over the next decade. For that to happen, of course, Sweeney and Barry need to hammer out a deal that’s likely to be long-term and for big money, which has become the norm for elite young players coming out of their entry-level deals.

On the one end of the spectrum is the super team-friendly three-year, $14.3 million deal that Nikita Kucherov signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the 2016-17 season, after which he went out and had a Hart Trophy-worthy year. This would be the absolute best-case scenario and Kucherov is absolutely a comparable to Pastrnak after he posted 30 goals and 66 points in his final entry-level season.

More likely than the Kucherov deal for Boston’s right-wing phenom would be something similar to Artemi Panarin (two years, $12 million) if a bridge deal was the approach. But the belief at this address is both the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp are looking at one of the bigger second contracts, something in the five-to-six year range and perhaps beyond, as the B’s clearly want to build around a player who bought into the team’s program last summer, got bigger and stronger and has dedicated himself to being a complete, game-breaking player at the NHL level.

That would be something similar to the longer-term contracts signed by comparable players at the same point in their NHL careers. Johnny Gaudreau signed a six-year contract for $40.5 million ($6.75 million per season) with the Flames late this past preseason. Sean Monahan agreed to a seven-year, $44.6 million contract ($6.38 million per season) recently. Mark Scheifele (eight years, $49 million), Filip Forsberg (six years, $36 million), and Vladimir Tarasenko (eight years, $60 million) would round out the comparable players in negotiations.

The raft of recent RFA contracts puts Pastrnak’s value squarely in the $6-7 million per season range in a deal that would buy out some of the right winger’s free-agent years but also give him a big chunk of dollars up front while he’s still restricted and fully under team control.

The big question at this point is whether or not Pastrnak is headed for a possible training-camp holdout, as Kucherov and Gaudreau were last season. The circumstance was a bit unique last fall because both of those players were still getting their work in at the World Cup of Hockey rather than sitting at home, and that might have ultimately added to the slow-moving negotiation process.

For those worried this could turn contentious, as it did with guys like Phil Kessel and Dougie Hamilton and led to their departures, the bottom line is this: There are no issues or reservations in Pastrnak's mind when it comes to the team, the coach or the city.

Pastrnak wants to be in Boston with the Bruins. The B’s value the player and his bright future. And a deal is going to get done. 

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.