Bruins

Haggerty: Should the Bruins keep Pastrnak below Marchand's deal?

Haggerty: Should the Bruins keep Pastrnak below Marchand's deal?

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? 

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

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Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

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And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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