Bruins

Haggerty: It's time for the Bruins to pay up with Pastrnak

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Haggerty: It's time for the Bruins to pay up with Pastrnak

With August just days away from being over, the time for patience in the David Pastrnak negotiations is beginning to run out.

The Bruins and the 21-year-old right winger had long been stuck in discussions on a contract in the neighborhood of six years, $36 million, but the B’s improved their offer last week to seven years, $42 million according to a report from the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul DuPont.

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Not surprisingly there is no imminent contract agreement expected between Pastrnak and the B’s, and neither of those offers are close to enough to land the dynamic young Czech Republic winger after exploding for 34 goals and 70 points last season. That’s because a comparable player in Leon Draisaitl signed an eight-year, $68 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this month, and any offer of $6 million per season is an extremely frugal starting point rather than anything close to an end point for Pastrnak’s camp.

Plain and simple the Boston Bruins need to step up with their offers in the next couple of weeks to begin approaching market value for Pastrnak.

If they don’t then they begin to run the risk of bungling things with another young player as they’ve previously done with Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton over the last 10 years. That would piss off the loyal fan base to a degree that would make the Jimmy Hayes debacle look like a Boston hockey fairy tale. It was encouraging to see the Bruins up the term for Pastrnak’s offer to seven years, but Don Sweeney and Co. would have been better off upping their offer to six years, $42 million ($7 million per season) if they actually hoped to start closing the gap between the two sides.

The act of simply adding another contracted year that buys out a season of Pastrnak’s free agency – all while not actually paying him anything higher in terms of salary – doesn’t make a lick of sense from the player’s perspective.

While Pastrnak and his camp might not be looking to break the bank with the same $8.5 million per season that Edmonton ponied up for Draisaitl, it’s beyond fair for the young right winger to seek the $7.5 million per season Vladimir Tarasenko is making in St. Louis. It’s time for the Bruins to capitulate on any notions they had of maintaining an internal salary structure where a fourth-year player in Pastrnak would be making less than Stanley Cup-winning veterans like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci.

Certainly, Pastrnak needs to make gains in decision-making with the puck and has to cut down on the turnovers while continuing to gain his NHL strength, and is by no means a finished product despite a brilliant season as a 20-year-old.

Hitting it big in free agency is often about entering the market at just the right time, and Pastrnak’s timing was impeccable after young, elite forwards in Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ryan Johansen and Draisaitl got paid this summer. Now it’s up to the Bruins to recognize that they’re low-balling one of the most important players for the long term future of their franchise. They need to make the necessary adjustment rather than further digging in their heels.

It’s ridiculous to paint a picture of Pastrnak being in any danger of receiving an offer sheet from another team. It simply doesn’t happen in the NHL for a multitude of reasons and the Bruins have roughly $10 million in salary cap space to easily match any futile attempt to raid Boston for their best young forward. But the mere fact that the Bruins and Pastrnak are this far apart just weeks away from the start of NHL training camp is a major concern.

It may be that both sides need to scrap plans for a long-term deal and instead settle on a three-year bridge deal that pays Pastrnak in the $7 million range. If the start of training comes and goes with no done deal for No. 88 then that might just be the best plan of action while putting off the 21-year-old’s inevitably massive payday for a few more years.

What the Bruins can’t afford is an acrimonious holdout that builds up bitter feelings between Pastrnak and the B’s. That kind of thing could help derail this season if it rolls into the regular season, and would send a damning message to Charlie McAvoy and the raft of other Bruins prospects that Boston won’t pay the going rate when the time comes.   

Internal salary structure and contracts signed in past years should be out the window for the Bruins when it comes to Pastrnak. It’s this simple: The B’s need to step up their currently modest offers for the 21-year-old, or risk ruining another one of their best young products at a time when they can’t afford to be taking any more steps backward. It may not be fair or desirable that the RFA market blew up on them or that players are looking for lockout-proof bonus money this summer, but that’s the cost of doing business in the NHL if the Bruins want to again hang with the big boys someday.

Otherwise, they can nickel and dime their best talent, and wallow in middle-ish mediocrity while their best and brightest look for the first opportunity to go somewhere where they will get paid what they deserve. If that happens with Pastrnak and a Bruins team devoid of dynamic, game-breaking forwards in their prospect pipeline right now, then the bean counters on Causeway Street deserve exactly what they get. 

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Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself

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Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching the Montreal Canadiens crash and burn in the Atlantic Division.  

*Max Pacioretty is certainly falling on his sword up in Montreal calling himself “the worst one on the ice” as the Habs really struggle to get going this season.

*Brad Marchand was on the Twitter machine after Thursday night’s win and having some fun with what his video game controller probably looks like when he plays hockey.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of the Erik Gudbranson boarding hit on Frank Vatrano from last night that looks like it’s going to get the Vancouver D-man suspended.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still adjusting to the changes that are taking place with the Arizona Coyotes as they struggle in the desert.

*The Maple Leafs are looking and acting like contenders early on up in Toronto, and that would be a very good thing for the NHL.

*For something completely different: The Backstreet Boys are going country? Now I’ve definitely seen it all.

 

Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

BRIGHTON, Mass – Another serious injury has hit the Bruins in the first few weeks of the season.

Adam McQuaid’s right leg is broken, he'll have surgery Monday and he’ll miss some significant time after he blocked a shot that knocked him out of the Thursday night victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The rugged, stay-at-home defenseman took multiple pucks of in successive games off his leg in the past two games against the Golden Knights and the Canucks.

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Bruins GM Don Sweeney, in a Bruins statement released after practice Friday, said McQuaid sustained a broken right fibula and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Mass. General Hospital. He is expected to miss approximately eight weeks.

It’s a tough blow for McQuaid, 31, after he was able to play 77 games last season before missing the playoffs with an injury and has consistently battled injuries in his career while playing a hard-nosed, fearless brand of hockey.

“Adam [McQuaid] is seeing the doctors as we speak, so there will be an announcement about him,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier Friday at practice. “With Bergie [Patrice Bergeron] it’s a maintenance day where we felt it would be better after 20 minutes of ice to let it rest, and the same with [David] Krejci. Miller is a maintenance day as well. He got whacked, but he should be fine as well. We’ll have a better idea in the morning, but we expect all of the [maintenance players] to play.”

Bergeron, David Krejci and Kevan Miller were all missing from practice on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was maintenance days for all as they’re expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. 

Tuukka Rask is out indefinitely while in the concussion protocol after his practice collision earlier this week, but the good news is that Bruins goaltender was up and around at the practice facility on Friday rather than at home convalescing in a dark room.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the Black and Gold with a few bodies missing from practice:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork

DeBrusk-White-Pastrnak

Agostino-Nash-Backes

Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McAvoy

Postma

 
Khudobin

McIntyre