Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

The Boston Bruins are set to kick off their training camp for the 2017-18 NHL regular season on Thursday morning with fitness testing at Warrior Ice Arena, but they’ll be missing one key player from the roster. B’s 21-year-old right winger David Pastrnak remains behind in his native Czech Republic as his agent and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney continue to try to work toward a contract extension for the game-breaking forward. 

Pastrnak won’t be returning to North American until he has a contract agreed upon, and therefore won’t be in attendance for the start of camp on Thursday. Instead Pastrnak will seek out a team to work out with in Europe if the holdout becomes a long term situation, and will be forced to explore other options for the season aside from Boston. 

For now, though, there is still plenty of time for Pastrnak to get signed to a big contract and quickly make the cross-continental flight to be on the ice for the weekend with little harm done to his preparation for the upcoming season. Pastrnak’s agent said he continues to go over ideas with Sweeney in very open lines of communication, and the two sides are talking about multiple deals with varying lengths of term. 

“I’m still talking to Don on a few terms, but no breakthroughs yet,” said Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, in a text message to CSN New England. “We will keep at it.”

It certainly sounds like it’s entirely up to the Bruins to provide the “breakthrough” in negotiations that’s finally going to close the deal with their young player. 

The increase in discussion between the two sides comes in direct proportion to the ticking clock when Pastrnak’s absence from camp begins to negatively impact his season. It’s believed that the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp are a little closer than previously when the two sides were $2 million apart in average annual value (AAV) of the contract. It’s likely that the Bruins aren’t currently willing to go much past the $6.75 per season million handed out to Johnny Gaudreau a year ago, and Pastrnak’s camp could be convinced to take the $7.5 million per season that Vladimir Tarasenko signed for in St. Louis a couple of years ago. 

Both are undoubtedly comparable contracts to Pastrnak, and that would leave around $7 million per season on a long term deal as the amount it would probably take to finally close the deal with the 21-year-old sniper. Pastrnak’s teammates and the Bruins coaching staff are undoubtedly hoping that things get done sooner rather than later, and that he’s able to step into camp and take his place on the right side alongside David Krejci early on in the preseason process. 

“You coach the guys that are there. You’re putting lines together all summer, and now at this particular moment you’re thinking about who is going to be on David [Krejci’s] right side if Pasta isn’t here. That’s about as far as it’s gone in that regard,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think with most guys if they miss some time, they’re playing a little bit of catch-up. How much catch-up? That’s speculation. How far behind? That’s speculation.

“But generally there is a bit of a catch-up period [with holdouts]. But let’s face it for his sake and for our sake, let’s hope there it’s very little if any at all [time missed].”

At the very least Pastrnak is going to miss the first official day of training camp for the Bruins, and will begin missing crucial on-ice practice days beginning Friday if the two sides haven’t been able to work out a suitable contract. 

What we learned in the Bruins comeback win over the Dallas Stars

AP Photo

What we learned in the Bruins comeback win over the Dallas Stars

Here’s What We Learned in Friday night’s 3-2 comeback win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

1)      Brad Marchand continues to not get much consideration at all from the referees on the ice. Marchand was against the boards facing the glass in the third period when Jamie Benn jumped up off his skates, slammed Marchand in the head on his way down like Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka off the top turnbuckle and didn’t even get a minor penalty for a clear charging play. That seemed to completely energize Marchand late in the third period and paved the way for his brilliant pass down low to David Pastrnak with 11.1 seconds remaining for the spinning, game-winning goal.  Credit No. 63 for responding in the right way to a clear cheap shot from Benn rather than losing his cool or something he’d regret on the ice, but Marchand continues to not be treated like a star player on the ice. The NHL should be looking for reasons to protect a main attraction like Marchand rather than letting every player take shots at him, or wrap him up in overtime to the point where he can’t make one of his exciting, game-winning plays as happened in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week. It’s one thing to hold Marchand accountable for the stuff that’s borderline, or way over the line, and could suspension-worthy. That’s something the NHL should continue to do when he sticks his nose over the line. But Marchand has earned treatment as one of the NHL elite players after scoring more goals than anybody else not named Alex Ovechkin over the last three seasons, and the officials on the ice should be treating him accordingly. Allowing a bigger player like Benn to leave his skates and give Marchand a head slam in the third period of a late season game certainly isn’t providing the B’s left winger with fair treatment on the ice, never mind treating him as one of the league’s best assets. It’s time the referees started making calls with Marchand as one of the league’s top players in mind rather than Marchand, one of the league’s big pests that isn’t really even relevant most of the time anymore.

2)      Clearly Tuukka Rask is Boston’s No. 1 goaltender right now and will be the guy once the postseason gets going in a couple of weeks. But Rask hadn’t been great lately as attested by his so-so .900 save percentage in the month of March, and certainly wasn’t finishing things up in strong fashion for a B’s group that’s admittedly been beset by injuries lately. So it was very important for Rask to have a big performance between the pipes that could get him back on track, and that’s exactly what happened on Friday night in Dallas against the Stars. Rask made a season-high 40 saves against the Stars and was brilliant early in the game when Dallas was throwing everything at him besides the kitchen sink. Rask stopped most of it while allowing just a screened goal and a shorthanded breakaway score for Jamie Benn in the second period, and stopping 40 of the 42 shots he faced through 60 minutes. Within those 40 saves Rask snagged a Tyler Seguin smoked one-timer from the point that he flashed with his glove hand, and later stuffed an Antoine Roussel scoring attempt on a drive to the front of the net. If Rask had allowed just one more goal it might have been impossible for the Bruins to come back from the deficit in the third period, but instead Rask held strong under attack and played his best game in perhaps a couple of months. With only 10 games to go in the regular season, it was the perfect time for Rask to start getting his game back in order as the Bruins begin making preparations for a postseason that sits just a few weeks away. It’s up to Rask to continue trending upward and remain at the highest point of his game going into the playoffs, but perhaps Friday night showed that it’s going to be possible.

3)      The Bruins are never out of it. They’re never dead. You can never count them out. It’s official and they are also officially a powerhouse in the third period when the game is on the line. Once again the B’s reeled off three goals in the third period to key the comeback, and Brad Marchand factored heavily into all three of those scores that allowed the Bruins to come from behind. This will be a skill that could really allow them some gut-punch moments in the postseason where a comeback or two in a series could completely change the momentum of the proceedings. It’s such a great skill to have.


*Brad Marchand factored in all three third period goals scoring on the first when a David Pastrnak shot bounced off his leg, assisting on the second when he broke out with a shorthanded odd-man rush and making a brilliant pass to David Pastrnak for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Marchand finished with a goal, three points and a plus-2 in 19:57 of ice time and had eight shot attempts in an energetic performance.

*David Pastrnak was nearly just as dominant as Marchand in the final 20 minutes with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and that brilliant curling play in the final seconds as he reached past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Pastrnak had a decent four shots on net in his nearly 18 minutes of ice time, and both Pastrnak and Marchand are stepping up when defenses are thoroughly keying on them down the stretch.

*Tuukka Rask pitched in a season-high 40 saves and made big stops in the second and third periods to keep the Bruins within a couple of goals, and allowing the Black and Gold to engineer that third period comeback that’s become one of their trademarks.


*Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal, but finished a minus-2 rating while going a puny 1-for-7 in the face-off circle to go right along with the cheap shot charging hit he threw at Brad Marchand in the third period as well. Benn wasn’t invisible but he made some pretty bad plays before being on the ice for the Boston game-winner in the closing seconds of the third period.

*Brian Gionta finished with a minus-2 and not shots on net in 13:01 of ice time, and the new look line with Jordan Szwarz and Tommy Wingels didn’t do much at all to distinguish themselves while being on the ice for a couple of goals against.

*No shots on net, a couple of giveaways and a minor penalty in 23:36 of ice time for John Klingberg, who didn’t do nearly enough for the Dallas Stars in a game that was a bit of a must-win for the Stars if they hope to end up on the right side of the playoff equation.


Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

File photo

Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while some inspiring kids march their lives in every city across the country.

*Here’s the podcast version of this week’s 98.5 the Sports Hub hockey show where FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston and yours truly talked about the ref’s treatment of Marchand, the comeback win over Dallas, Ryan Donato and what the Bruins lineup might look like in the playoffs.

*Ottawa Senators coach and aspiring Bond villain Guy Boucher knows that his job performance is going to be evaluated at season’s end just like that of his underperforming players.

*The Bruins playoff marketing ad chastising Mike Felger for his early season hot take is drawing plenty of attention and praise, including from Forbes Magazine.

*Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes story about how "Hockey Night in Canada" comes together on a weekly basis to be the very heartbeat of NHL coverage in Canada.

*Sean Monahan’s season is over with the Calgary Flames as they plummet out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

*For something completely different: The March For Our Lives is not only inspiring to somebody like me, but a sign that things are changing in our country. There is a sea change coming and it’s long past time for it to happen.