Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins' only choice is signing Pastrnak rather than trading him

Haggerty: Bruins' only choice is signing Pastrnak rather than trading him

At this point in the negotiations between David Pastrnak and the Bruins, it should be painstakingly clear that there will be no easy option for the Black and Gold. 

Months ago, the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp discussed a deal in the neighborhood of six years and $36 million, as first reported by CSN New England, but that ship sailed when Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ryan Johansen and Leon Draisaitl all signed massive contracts as young, restricted free agents in a summer where elite young players saw their market go way, way up.

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So, the Bruins will need to step up and find some sort of middle ground on a long-term deal between $6 million per season and the $8.5 million per season that Draisaitl received, or they’ll need to somehow get Pastrnak’s camp to agree on a shorter bridge deal that comes with all kinds of risk down the line. Either option could include a Pastrnak holdout into training camp as both sides brace for the best deal possible. That’s something that would begin to impact this year’s team in a negative way.

The other, almost unthinkable, option: A trade of another talented young player. Don Sweeney and the Bruins have already stated they don’t want to trade the 21-year-old right winger, who is coming off a 34-goal, 70-points point season, and that goes in line with everything Sweeney and Cam Neely have said since Dougie Hamilton essentially forced them to trade him away to the Calgary Flames.

Neely and Sweeney have been consistent in their message of saying the Bruins are done “sprinkling their talent around the rest of the league”, and everyone is on the same page evaluating Pastrnak as a massive talent. So a trade involving Pastrnak doesn’t appear on the horizon and it really shouldn’t as long as the Black and Gold think the game-breaking, young right winger wants to remain in Boston.

What would a trade of Pastrnak look like if Sweeney and the Bruins did get to the point where the nuclear option was necessary?

Felger and Mazz earlier this week floated the scenario of a Pastrnak-for-Noah Hanifin trade with the Carolina Hurricanes making a lot of practical sense for the Bruins. Certainly, the Bruins are looking for a young left-shot defenseman who could be an heir apparent to 40-year-old Zdeno Chara and the jury is way out as to whether young prospect Jakub Zboril will ever be that guy. There’s also the fact that acquiring Hanifin would allow Sweeney to go full circle after he tried to trade up to nab the former Boston College D-man in the 2015 draft, in which the Bruins made three consecutive selections in the middle of the first round.

But let’s be honest here. The 20-year-old Hanifin hasn’t quite developed in Carolina as many projected when he was a lottery pick for the Hurricanes. He wasn’t even a top-four defenseman for most of the year in Carolina while falling short of 18 minutes of ice time per game, and he was a team-worst minus-19 in 81 games for the Hurricanes.

If the Bruins ever actually did trade Pastrnak, they’d need to get the same kind of elite, young player in return. It’s clear Hanifin isn’t anywhere close to the level of a player who busted out for 34 goals and 70 points last season. A deal that would make more sense for the Bruins would be another member of the 2015 draft class in Columbus, D-man Zach Werenski, but there’s no way the Blue Jackets would deal a player that looks like a Norris Trophy contender for the next 10 plus years. That’s the rub with potentially dealing Pastrnak and what puts the Black and Gold into such a difficult spot.

If the Bruins did indeed trade a young, star player for another team’s top young player, they are going to have to show the player they bring in the money just like they’re eventually going to have to pay Pastrnak. And another team isn’t going to trade away their young star if they’ve already got him locked up in a reasonable long-term contract.

The bottom line with No. 88 is that he’s the perfect fit for the speedier, skilled philosophy that the Bruins are emphasizing these days and that the B’s don’t have anything else in their organization that’s even close to his game-breaking, electric ability. 

The best possible solution for Sweeney remains figuring out a way to close a deal with Pastrnak on a contract that will keep him happy and productive in Boston, and in doing so avoiding another futile repeat of the Original Six organization’s handling of Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton over the past 10 years. 

Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

BUFFALO – Rick Nash has been a longtime good buddy of Jumbo Joe Thornton, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that was one of the first texts that the new Bruins power forward received this morning upon learning he’d been traded to Boston.

“He’d always said it was a great place to play,” said Nash. “I actually got a text from him this morning, so that’s pretty cool.”

The 33-year-old Nash will learn firsthand what it’s like to play for the Boston Bruins after getting dealt to the Black and Gold on Sunday morning from the Rangers in exchange for a bundle of assets amounting to a 2018 first round pick, NCAA defenseman prospect Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash is in the lineup for the Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, and he’ll be playing exactly where the Bruins envisioned on David Krejci’s right wing.

The deal will give the Bruins the size, heaviness and power that they’ve been looking to add on their wing this season, and gives Krejci the exact kind of player that he’s had success with in the past a la Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla.

“The team has had such a great year that you don’t want to come in here and ruffle any feathers. You just want to fit in and help out wherever you can,” said Nash. “It was a strange last few weeks in New York, but I’ve moved on and I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m really excited to be here. I wanted to go to a place that wanted me, and that had a great chance to win. I think Boston fits both of those perfectly.

“I just want to bring my style of hockey, and be a big power forward that can hopefully bring some offense, be responsible defensively and be a complete player. It’ll be fun to see what happens. They’re such a good team and they have so many good players that you just want to see where you fit in.

The hope for the Bruins, obviously, is that the chance at a Stanley Cup can light a fire under the 33-year-old Nash, who has posted 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games for the Rangers this season after failing to crack 40 points in each of the last two seasons. Clearly the big-bodied Nash is on the back nine of an All-Star NHL career, but the Bruins see a 6-foot-4, 215-pound dynamic winger that can still score, hit and play the power game around the net that’s needed when things get nasty in the postseason.

“He’s very dynamic. He’s hard to stop and contain one-on-one. He’s got good speed and can protect the puck well, and get so the net with good hands around the net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s all those things are far as attacking the scoring area. He’s a good penalty killer and responsible defensive player. He’s a good fit and he’s going to right in with [David] Krejci on the right wing with Jake DeBrusk on the left.

“We’re not huge in that area. In our top-9 it will give us a different look and I think it will help us a lot. No disrespect to Ryan Spooner, who went into it with a different skill set. We didn’t expect him to grow five inches earlier this year, so this certainly helps us in those closer, harder games. We’ll see where it leads us.”

In his last three playoff runs with the Rangers, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points in 39 games, which is much better playoff production than the impact winger had earlier in his NHL career. And that is what the Bruins spent all of those assets for on Sunday morning with a chance for Nash to bring something to the B’s as they have big plans for this spring.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

Here are the all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while nothing could be finer than a Sunday spent in Buffalo. 

 

*Congrats to Chris Kelly, who parlayed his captaincy with Team Canada into a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks for the rest of this season. 

 

*A very good move by the Maple Leafs to land Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, who is definitely a guy that gets under the skin of Bruins center David Krejci if Boston and Toronto do indeed meet in the first round of the playoffs. 

 

*Patrik Elias gets the hero’s treatment from the New Jersey Devils after a fantastic career with the organization. 

 

*Do not get on the goaltenders in St. Louis with mock cheers, or you will surely feel the wrath of Vladimir Tarasenko. 

 

*What happens when an excellent, electric hockey game gets in the way of a trade deadline where the Montreal Canadiens are selling off pieces? 

 

*For something completely different: Here’s an excellent piece on the work of NBC production people back in Stamford, Connecticut that are the backbone of the Olympics coverage that everybody has come to know and love. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE