Malcolm Butler isn’t the only local star whose restricted free-agent status has Boston fans biting their nails.
At the end of the current NHL season, David Pastrnak, fresh off what will be the best season by a Bruin on his first contract since Patrice Bergeron scored 31 goals in 2005-06, will see his entry-level deal expire. He will be due for a big raise and the Bruins want to give it to him.
Yet to do that, Don Sweeney will need to strike a deal with super agent J.P. Barry, who also represents Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson, both of whom left Boston after contract negotiations.
Yet before you go lamenting another potential departure, take a deep breath. For their past struggles to find common ground, it seems the talks thus far have gone well. And, really, they should. This sounds like it should be an easy negotiation.
The Bruins don't have designs on losing Pastrnak the way they did with Hamilton. He’s a top-six fixture who could one day surpass Brad Marchand as the team’s best scorer. Still just 20, Pastrnak has 28 goals through 62 games and could conceivably end up hitting 35 on the season.
Both sides are interested in a long-term deal rather than a bridge contract. The best news of all for the Bruins is that Pastrnak’s camp is not insisting on Vladimir Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year deal worth $7.5 million annually after his entry level deal, as a comparable.
Rather, they feel the most accurate comps are Filip Forsberg, Sean Monahan and Mark Scheifele, all of whom signed new contracts off their entry level deals last offseason. Here’s what they got:
Forsberg: Six years, $36 million ($6 million cap hit; 8.22% of cap in year 1)
Monahan: Seven years, $44.625 million ($6.35 million cap hit; 8.73% of cap in year 1)
Scheifele: Eight years, $49 million ($6.12 million cap hit; 8.39% of cap in year 1)
All three of those players had at least one 25-goal season during their entry-level deal, as Pastrnak has. From a goal-scoring standpoint, Monahan was the most consistent with 22, 31 and 27.
This is Pastrnak’s first full season after playing 46 and 51 NHL games in his first and second pro seasons, respectively, but he’s currently on pace to score more goals this season than any of the aforementioned trio did in a single season on their first deals.
Because of his age, a longterm deal would also give Pastrnak the best of both worlds. He'd get a payday now and still be young enough at his next contract's expiration (depending on length of a six-plus year deal, he'd be between 27 and 29 at its conclusion) to still cash in another huge contract.
So these are fair comps and all three of those players got relatively similar deals -- at least six years with a cap hit of between 8.22 percent and 8.73 percent of the cap in the deal’s first year. What could possibly make this easier?
That the Bruins might not even have to do math.
It’s been reported that the cap won’t go up much, if at all, from the $73 million it is this season. That means that the Bruins could conceivably start with one of these contracts and perhaps not be far off from the one that could keep Pastrnak in Boston.
We know what’s happened between Barry and Sweeney in past negotiations, but this one should have a happy ending.