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.  

Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE