Bruins

Haggerty: Draisaitl deal means Pastrnak is about to get paid in big way

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Haggerty: Draisaitl deal means Pastrnak is about to get paid in big way

The final price tag on David Pastrnak’s contract just went up.

With the news on Wednesday that 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl had signed an eight-year, $68 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers that pays him an average of $8.5 million per season, the high bar has been set for the 21-year-old Pastrnak. It will be difficult to find a better comparable for the dynamic Bruins right winger than the center/winger Draisaitl as they sit at the exact same points in their respective NHL careers.

As Jeff Copetas laid out on twitter, the numbers between the fellow first round picks make a convincing, almost airtight case that they would be comparable players in negotiations:

So what does this mean for Pastrnak and the Bruins now that the ink is dried on Draisaitl’s deal, and Peter Chiarelli is once again holding an impact over Boston’s salary cap situation?

Well, they’re going to have to pay more than the $6 million per season they were hoping to get Pastrnak for on a long-term contract. While Pastrnak may not get exactly the same deal from the Bruins that Draisaitl earned from the Oilers, there is every possibility the 21-year-old is poised to become the highest paid player on the entire team coming off a breakout season where he posted 34 goals and 70 points.  

A fair market value contract for Pastrnak could be the exact same eight-year, $60 million contract that Vladimir Tarasenko signed with the St. Louis Blues a couple of years ago. If he really wants to maximize his situation, the Czech right winger would be well within his rights to hold out for $8 million per season for as long as it takes the Bruins to decide they can go there.

It’s a massive deal for a player coming off their entry-level contract with one truly excellent season under their belt, and a big bet that Pastrnak will continue to improve his puck management, his two-way game and his consistency to go along with the electric offensive skills.

But let’s be honest about Pastrnak here. He’s not Phil Kessel, Dougie Hamilton or Tyler Seguin in the best way possible. All of those young, elite Bruins players had issues that ultimately doomed their careers in Boston whether it was Kessel and Hamilton both wanting to play elsewhere, or Seguin treating his career with the Bruins like it was a never-ending episode of The Bachelor.

Pastrnak is committed to reaching his potential as he showed a summer ago by getting bigger and stronger in an effort that paid dividends on the ice, and his carefree, exuberant personality makes him very well-liked in his own dressing room. He wants to play for the Bruins for the long term, and he again showed that by traveling with the Bruins organization to China this summer to promote the Original Six hockey club.

There’s also the simple fact that the Bruins don’t have anybody in their organization that can replace his speed, offensive skills and ability to break open games with his scoring. Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy are the future building blocks for this Bruins franchise for the next 10 years, and the Bruins need to view it that way when they’re investing in them as players.

So the 21-year-old checks off all the boxes in terms of the Bruins feeling good about making a sizeable long term investment, and Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs confirmed on WEEI Wednesday afternoon that the B’s want a six plus year deal with the right wing wunderkind. He’s also exactly the perfect speed, skill and game-breaking fit for a Bruins organization that’s changing their philosophy to a hockey club comprised of more skill/speed over size/physicality.

In a perfect world the Bruins could have signed Pastrnak to a contract that would have fit in with their internal salary structure, and slotted him in behind Brad Marchand ($6.125M), Patrice Bergeron ($6.875M) and David Krejci ($7.25M) among the forwards. But that kind of contract was dead in the water once elite young players like Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ryan Johansen signed massive contract extensions earlier this summer, and it’s become totally unrealistic with the Draisaitl deal coming down in Edmonton.

The good news is that the Bruins have a month before the start of NHL training camp and they have $10 million in salary cap space. They are firmly in a position to get something done with Pastrnak in a way that’s not going to negatively impact him or the franchise, and Don Sweeney now knows the parameters they’re working within. Now it’s just going to cost the Bruins a little bit more than they originally intended, but it’s no secret that 21-year-old goal-scorers with elite offensive skills get paid sooner rather than later in the NHL these days. 

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Backes hoping return from diverticulitis is 'on the upswing'

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Backes hoping return from diverticulitis is 'on the upswing'

BRIGHTON, Mass – While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the Bruins medical staff before becoming a possibility, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

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After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress…certainly. A return…we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.