Bruins

Haggerty: Despite the rumors, Bruins aren't trading Pastrnak

Haggerty: Despite the rumors, Bruins aren't trading Pastrnak

With little recent progress on the contract front for game-breaking right winger David Pastrnak, it would appear the hardball portion of negotiations have begun.

NHL Network analyst and former Lightning GM Brian Lawton tweeted out on Monday he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Pastrnak is traded based on the current tenor of negotiations:

This is coupled with rumor-peddler Eklund also mentioning on Monday that perhaps there's something cooking between the Bruins and Los Angeles Kings that would involve Pastrnak in a blockbuster summer deal.

Take Eklund for what it’s worth, as always. But Lawton has deep, legitimate NHL sources and has been wholly accurate with reports similar to this one in the past.

So what does all of this mean?

I wholly buy into Lawton and his sources, but think this may be a sign both sides are getting a little antsy with training camp just about a month away. Earlier this offseason, indications were the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp were pretty far along on a long-term deal that would have paid the 21-year-old something short of Brad Marchand’s eight-year contract, both in term and in the average annual value of the deal. So it would have been something in the neighborhood of a six-year, $36 million pact that would have been pretty fair for both sides.  

But that was before a number of elite NHL players like Connor McDavid and Evgeny Kuznetsov got massive contracts from their respective teams, and the RFA market shaped up to make Leon Draisaitl and Pastrnak -- pretty comparable players -- still unsigned late into the summer. That could mean Pastrnak ends up in the $7-7.5 million per year range, and that could boost him past veteran leaders like Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in terms of salary.

There are also indication that perhaps Pastrnak’s camp and the Bruins are far apart in potential lockout-proof bonus money.  

This is where the issues come in for the Bruins. They have an internal salary structure where Pastrnak should be slotted in below Marchand and Bergeron based on service time, his role on the team and where he’s at in his very young NHL career. They may be starting to play a tougher brand of negotiations with whispers of a possible trade, and it’s clear they are going to stand firmly for a while on their end of contract talks with their prized RFA.

But let’s be honest here.

The Bruins aren’t going to trade David Pastrnak. Period. They need his speed, they need his goal-scoring ability, and they need his youthful zest for the game to sell their product in Boston. There's no other player coming through the organization who can match the dynamic right winger's skill set, and he's in high demand across the league because there aren’t many like him.  

The B’s would be on the losing end of any Pastrnak trade because they’d be giving up the best player in the deal. Remember Tyler Seguin? The Bruins would deserve what they get if they make that mistake again.

Boston is still trying to uncover itself from the rubble of trading Seguin for a number of assets that are now gone from the organization. The mere specter of repeating that mistake will have diehard B’s fans marching to Causeway Street with pitchforks, torches and season-ticket refund demands.

Pastrnak still has things to learn in terms of puck management and consistency, and he clearly needs to be better prepared for the way defenses leaned on him late in the season. But we’re talking about a player who scored 34 goals and 70 points in a season before his 21st birthday, and we’re also talking about a player who's done everything the Bruins have asked in terms of improving his game.

This, along with his RFA status, should be reflected in a number he settles on when the two sides eventually agree on a contract. It may not happen until sometime in training camp, and this latest development is a sign that things aren’t currently going in a great direction. But there’s no reason for Bruins fans to begin panicking at the first whisper of trade rumors now that they’ve surfaced midway through August.

There's probably good reason for B’s fans to have gut-wrenching flashbacks to past negotiations with young players gone wrong. Talks with Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel and, of course, Seguin were all botched.

But that's not what’s happening right now, despite a little smoke billowing out of the Bruins home offices.

Also, this is also a player that wants to be in Boston and isn't trying to shoot his way out of town, as Kessel and Hamilton clearly did before each of them was traded. 

By all accounts the Bruins currently have no appetite for trading Pastrnak, and this first volley of rumors would appear to be more about message-sending in negotiations rather than actually shipping out another elite young hockey player. If the trade stuff goes beyond that, then Don Sweeney, Cam Neely and the rest of the Bruins organization will begin destroying all the goodwill they built up with a pretty solid end kick to their season last year.  

For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

TORONTO – It’s no secret that NHL players weren’t happy about being barred from participating in the Winter Olympics wrapping up in South Korea this week. 

Instead the NHL continued their regular season with business as usual while skipping the Olympics for the first time since 1998, and college hockey players, minor league players and players already playing overseas in Europe were utilized to comprise the teams for the US, Canada and others participating in the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament. 

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The lack of NHL participation has made for a wide open tournament at this month’s Olympics, and led to the major upset of Canada actually losing to Germany on Friday in a match to play for the gold medal game this weekend. That was bad news for former Bruins forward Chris Kelly as the captain of Team Canada at the tail end of his hockey career, but great news for fellow former B’s forward Marco Sturm as the head coach of Team Germany. 

Naturally one couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, who certainly would have both been on Team Canada, watching Hockey Canada fall short of the gold medal game. 

“Obviously you cheer for your country and that’s what we were all doing. I got up early to catch a little of the game,” said Bergeron. “It’s too bad. I thought Germany played a really good game, and there’s a part of me that’s very happy for Marco [Sturm] since he’s a friend of mine. We played together for a long time.

“It was tough. You wanted to be out there and you wanted to be able to compete. It’s too bad that we didn’t have a say in it. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. That’s my biggest disappointment that we had no say in being a part of it. It was different. The last two Olympics I was in it, and now being able to watch it on TV it’s actually been a lot of fun to be able to watch different events at any time of the day.”

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While Bergeron has his two gold medals from each of the past two Olympic Games to go along with his memories, Marchand might have missed his one chance to be a part of Team Canada at the Olympics during the peak of his hockey career. Coming off last season’s stunning performance from Team Canada at the World Cup, Marchand would have been close to an automatic for the Olympic roster, but instead it’s an experience he may have simply missed the boat on given that he’ll be 33 years old the next time around. 

“Obviously you get over it, but it was more about it being an opportunity lost, I think,” said Marchand. “It was a potential opportunity lost, but it allows other guys to have opportunities. I couldn’t be any happier that a guy like Chris Kelly gets to be there. It’s a huge opportunity. A lost opportunity for us is a huge opportunity for other guys…but it would have been nice to be there and be a part of it. It’s the biggest stage in the world.  

“The biggest reason it stings is that I never thought I would even be potentially be looked at for a team like that. With how things have played out the last couple of years, I might have been able to crack that [Olympic] lineup. So I think it stings a little more for that reason…to have the rug pulled out from under you for no reason. It does sting a bit, but that’s how it goes.”

That stinging feeling from the league pulling out of the Olympics will no doubt be revisited the next time the NHL and NHLPA go to the bargaining table for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But that’s a different story for a different day as the first Winter Olympics without NHL players in 20 years finally goes into the books this weekend.

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DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

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DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

TORONTO – Jake DeBrusk has heard about the trade rumors. Heck, the 21-year-old has actually been traded before in his hockey career as he was dealt in junior hockey from Swift Current to the Red Deer Rebels in his final season. It’s a little different, however, when DeBrusk hears his name involved in trade rumors with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and reports indicate that DeBrusk is a name that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton wants included in any deal. 

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It makes perfect sense with DeBrusk off to a strong start to his NHL career with 11 goals and 29 points in 54 games while playing a top-6 role next to David Krejci, and just scratching the surface of how good he can be with the Bruins. Brandon Carlo has likewise been mentioned prominently as well as a young NHL player being sought after in trade talks. 

But the bottom line for all the Bruins youngsters is that they don’t want to go anywhere, and are doing their best to block everything out while preparing to go out and do their best. 

“I got traded in junior, so I know a little bit about it…but it’s a little different when it’s the magnitude of the NHL,” said DeBrusk. “We’re just focusing on getting wins, and doing everything I can do to help the team win. At the same you’re keeping an eye out and looking [at the rumors] secretly. But it is what it is. You can’t control it. You can only control your play, and do anything I can to help the team win now. You can only take it day by day. 

“I love being with these guys and we’re a pretty tight group. So whatever happens is going to happen, but at the same time whoever is on the ice we’ll go to battle with them.”

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Clearly DeBrusk wants to stick with the team that selected him 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, and the Bruins would do well to keep a talented, likable and bright youngster that could be a meaningful member of the organization for a long, long time. But he’s also drawing whatever positive that he can out of the situation, and the biggest one is that other NHL teams are clearly taking notice of what he’s done this season as a rookie. 

Being the primary name mentioned in a deal for a player like the captain of the New York Rangers means you must be doing a lot of things right. 

“When you’re a rookie with your name being thrown around and the other guy has some pretty high stature in the league, it’s a compliment. But I don’t look too much into it,” said DeBrusk. “I love being a Bruin. I just want to continue to get better, continue to improve and I’ve got lots of room to grow. I’m just taking it shift-by-shift.”

That’s a smart kid with a good answer as he focuses on his game on the ice, and learns on the job to navigate through his first NHL experience that’s now included being at the heart of a juicy trade rumor for the Black and Gold.

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