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? 

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

MORE BRUINS:

Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.