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: Issues with gambling and Vegas Golden Knights?

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Morning Skate: Issues with gambling and Vegas Golden Knights?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while still in disbelief at what happened to Gordon Hayward last night.

*Interesting piece on the connection between gambling and the NHL in Las Vegas where they’ve just kicked their new expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights.

*Would you like a Providence Bruins game-worn jersey and give to a great cause at the same time? Here are the Pink the Rink Bruins jerseys up for auction on eBay with the money earmarked for cancer research and treatment.

*Some interesting stuff from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman in his 30 Thoughts about the start that Malcolm Subban is off to with the Vegas Golden Knights and whether that’s in any way a reflection on the way goalies are being developed with the Bruins.

*So, the Ottawa Senators clearly didn’t miss Erik Karlsson given the start that they got off to, but there’s no doubt hockey fans did as he makes his return from offseason surgery.

*Nikita Kucherov just keeps on improving for the Tampa Bay Lightning after a Hart Trophy-level season last year.

*For something completely different: I don’t understand why there’s anything controversial about somebody saying In ‘N Out Burger is overrated. While it’s a perfectly fine West Coast fast food chain, it is absolutely overrated at this point. The fries are average at best, and the burgers are merely okay compared to all of the other burger joints out there.  

 

 

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

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Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.