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. 


 

Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

stephen-peat-112217.jpg

Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wishing everybody a safe night before Thanksgiving. Be careful out there, people.

*The New York Times has a very sad story on former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, as told to the Times through a series of emails and texts from Peat’s dad as he struggles with a number of seemingly concussion-related issues in his post-hockey life.

*There’s nothing better than some Benn on Benn brotherly crime as Jordie Benn lays a hit on Jamie Benn in the Stars vs. Habs game.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector has the Edmonton Oilers hitting a new low after they quit in a loss to the St. Louis Blues.

*Duncan Keith said he wants to play until he’s 45 and defy the odds as one of the few that get a chance to play pro hockey for that long.

*Dylan Larkin is flourishing with the Detroit Red Wings as he’s adding more responsibility to his chores in Hockeytown.

*A Happy Thanksgiving to the Boychuks and all the other great people around the NHL, including Matt Beleskey with the Bruins, who take time out of their days to help make sure everybody has a good meal on Turkey Day.

*For something completely different: Excited for my kids that there is going to be more Trolls in their future starting with a Christmas special on Friday.

 


 

Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

One season could be an outlier. Two seasons is a trend. Three seasons is a long-term pattern that doesn’t figure to change.

For the last three seasons Boston’s $7 million man between the pipes, Tuukka Rask, has been more ordinary than extraordinary, and that’s a troubling development. At this point it’s enough to convince this humble hockey writer that the Bruins will never win a Stanley Cup with Rask as their No. 1 goaltender, and that should become a real issue in the next few years as the Bruins build back up to contender status.

Anton Khudobin will make his third straight start Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, and that makes all the sense in the world: The backup has dramatically outplayed the starter this year. Just compare Khudobin’s NHL-leading .935 save percentage to Rask's pathetic .897, and the fact that the Bruins have pulled points from every single game Khudobin has started.

That’s all short-term stuff, but it's important as the Bruins are desperate for point to stay on the outskirts of the playoff picture. Long term, the B's are aiming toward being a Cup contender in a couple of years, when youngsters like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo, Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk will be entering their primes, and grizzled, winning veterans like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will still have something left in the tank.

But what of the goaltending?

Rask, 30, still has an impressive career .922 save percentage, and nobody can take away his Vezina Trophy or his All-Star level seasons. But his save percentages have dropped noticeably: It's a combined .915 in the last two full seasons, and is below .900 now. He’s become predictable in his approach to shooters, consistently dropping to give them high, open targets around the net. And it feels like he’s lost some of the competitive fire he had when he was a milk-crate-tossing prospect in the minor leagues.

The stretches where he gives up soft goals have gotten longer, and -- as is necessary with a changing, aging cast of defensive personnel -- Rask rarely steals games when the Bruins are outplayed. The organization has also come to the determination that he loses effectiveness if he plays more than 55-60 times ia season.

In short, Rask is being paid as a $7 million-a-year franchise goalie, but he's not playing like one. And there's four years beyond this left on the contract.

The Bruins will have to play him and pump up his value if they any hopes of trading him in the future. He'll have to be inserted back in the lineup at some point anyway, because let’s face it: Khudobin and Zane McIntyre aren’t the answers as his replacement. The B's need to draft, sign or trade for Rask’s heir apparent, and pave the way for that goaltender to be in Boston a couple of years from now when they're again ready for a Stanley Cup push.

Rask proved he wasn’t good enough to carry a talented Bruins team over the top when he crumbled at the end of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks, and he’s been spotty, and oft-times unreliable, in big games ever since. It’s time for the Bruins to begin the search process for a goalie that can take them on a Cup run when they’re ready for it.

After nine seasons, Rask has proven he isn’t that guy.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE