Bruins

Haggerty: There's a middle ground to get things done with Pastrnak

Haggerty: There's a middle ground to get things done with Pastrnak

BRIGHTON, Mass -- David Backes probably had the best idea yet when asked about the ongoing, unconsummated contract talks between the Bruins and 21-year-old game-breaking right wing David Pastrnak.

“I think there’s a desire from both sides for him to be in camp and be playing, and for him to be a Bruin for a long time,” said Backes, who signed his own five-year, $30 million contract with the Bruins a little more than a year ago. “We should lock them all in a room with no food until they figure it out…that’s my plan. But I’ve had [teammates] that have held out of camp before, and typically there is enough stress [applied] and eventually, cooler heads prevail no too long after that. That’s what I hope happens that he’s a participating member for the entire season.

“If not then it’s the sooner, the better. I don’t have any kind of crystal ball, but I think he’s going to be a Bruin for a long time and he won’t be worried about paying for any meals. He loves playing the game, he’s good at it and they want him here. So it will get done in my opinion.”

While that was more tongue-in-cheek than a real suggestion, it may take something extreme like that for the B’s to finally get something done with Pastrnak with only about a week to go until the start of NHL training camp. The good news continues to be that something will eventually get done between the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp because both sides want something to get done, and there has been plenty of recent dialogue between Pastrnak agent JP Barry and B’s general manager Don Sweeney.

The bad news is that all of those recent conversations haven’t really pushed the two sides all that much closer together and there still remains a sizeable gap in actually getting a deal done.

Thursday morning, Sweeney said it's "status quo" in talks. "We just need to find a deal that works," the GM added.

The Bruins have offered a pair of deals in the six- and seven-year range that would pay Pastrnak $6 million per season. It’s believed that Pastrnak’s camp countered late last week with an eight-year offer something in the neighborhood of $64 million. Regardless of what Sweeney and the Bruins have proposed, Pastrnak’s camp hasn’t wavered from their client being a direct comparable to 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl after he signed an eight-year, $68 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this summer.

While it might seem like a massive gap to overcome with camp just days away and a real danger that Pastrnak could miss significant time in the preseason, there is also very clearly a middle ground here once camp begins. Pastrnak is going to get more than the $6 million AAV that the Bruins have offered based on what comparable players in Draisaitl and Vladimir Tarasenko got in similar situations and there’s been an obvious market change for elite young players given the money that Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ryan Johansen and Draisaitl got.

Still, it’s also fair to say that Pastrnak is going to have to settle for a little less than Draisaitl, despite posting 34 goals and 70 points last season in a breakout campaign for the Bruins. Pastrnak doesn’t play center, as Draisaitl potentially will for the Oilers, and for the most part centers hold a little more value than wings.

So, in all fairness, Pastrnak should be looking at something along the lines of the eight-year, $60 million that Tarasenko signed for with the Blues after posting just one 30-goal, 70-point season in the NHL. The $7-7.5 million-per-year range is the clear middle ground between the two sides, and where things should eventually be going.

Meanwhile, the Bruins would probably like to sign Pastrnak to something more like the six-year, $40.5 million ($6.75 million) contract that Johnny Gaudreau agreed to with the Calgary Flames roughly a year ago. That kind of deal would pay him more than Cup-winning veteran Brad Marchand, but it would be a tick less than Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million) and David Krejci ($7.25 million) in Boston’s internal salary structure. It should get done eventually without any real damage being done to Pastrnak’s season or the Bruins’ hopes for the upcoming year, but it’s easy to why it’s going to take some time given the difference of opinion in the young player’s value on what’s going to be a massive second contract.

So perhaps the “locked in a room” suggestion from Backes might not be such a bad after all if they want to start speeding up the process. 


 

Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

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File photo

Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months. 

Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin. 

The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.

He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury. 

Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.

Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.

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Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick. 

The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.

Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.

In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.

There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.

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