With NHL training camp a little more than a month away, the Bruins and David Pastrnak remain decidedly apart on a contract extension for the game-breaking 21-year-old right winger.
As with many things in life there are probably numerous reasons why a deal hasn’t been reached at this point in time between Boston and their prolific, exciting young winger. Some have speculated there’s a divide on the length of term between the two camps with Pastrnak’s camp looking for a shorter bridge deal, but there’s no hard evidence that is actually the case at all.
There is some thought perhaps the hold-up is about the presence of lockout-proof bonuses in Pastrnak’s long term contract, and the Bruins hesitancy to go down that road given their long standing as one of the hawkish organizations among the NHL Board of Governors.
The bottom line is that there is no Pastrnak contract because the money isn’t right quite yet and anything else could, and would, be solved in short orders once the actual financial numbers were hammered down. Part of the hang-up is Pastrnak sitting in the same RFA situation as unsigned Leon Draisaitl with the Edmonton Oilers. Both prolific young forwards are comparable players while looking for second contracts this summer, and both could end up settling for similar contracts when it’s all said and done over the next month or so.
That could mean as much as $7 million or more per season on a long term in the same neighborhood as the $7.5 million per season that Vladimir Tarasenko signed for with the Blues a couple of years ago, and that all raises an interesting situation for the Black and Gold.
Both Pastrnak and 29-year-old Brad Marchand will be named a current list of “The Top 20 Wings Right Now” during that program’s airing on the NHL Network on Sunday night, and those forwards very clearly led the B’s offense last season. They’re also expected to do very much the same this season in Boston. Marchand signed a contract for eight years, $49 million last fall that pays him $6.125 million per season, and by all accounts it’s going to be a bargain for the Bruins after he nearly hit the 40-goal mark last season.
All of this begs the question whether the Bruins should draw a line in the contractual sand that says Pastrnak can’t make more than Marchand on his coming contract extension. Sources had indicated to CSN that both the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp had previously made big progress on a contract that was going to fall slightly short of the Marchand contract in both term and average annual value. Those talks have moved “into a holding pattern” according to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, and perhaps some of that is Boston’s internal salary structure as well.
All things being equal the Bruins would prefer to keep Pastrnak’s number below Marchand given his seniority, the service time and No. 63’s place on the team as a leader and key producer, and they are wise to hold out for that kind of contract with their electric, young right winger. If Pastrnak jumps ahead of nearly every other player on the Bruins roster after one admittedly brilliant year with 34 goals and 70 points, that could be problematic when it comes to keeping a cohesive, strong dressing room full of players happy with their own contract situations.
A six-year contract worth about $6 million per season for Pastrnak would seem to benefit all parties involved. .
Unfortunately none of these best laid plans may matter if Draisaitl signs a deal with Edmonton in the $7-8 million per season range, and thereby gives Pastrnak’s camp the ammunition they need seeking a bigger number from Boston. The Bruins are in a position where they need to sign Pastrnak whatever the going rate is to keep their resident game-breaker for the next 10 years, and they need to do it without a lengthy, damaging holdout in NHL training camp.
There is still hope they can somehow get Pastrnak signed to a second contract that fits Boston’s internal salary structure, puts him slightly Marchand in term and average annual salary, and leaves a little something extra for Boston within their current $10 million of salary cap space.
There’s always a Dumb and Dumber-style chance of anything having to do with the Bruins when your Club President is Seabass, right?