The final price tag on David Pastrnak’s contract just went up.
With the news on Wednesday that 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl had signed an eight-year, $68 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers that pays him an average of $8.5 million per season, the high bar has been set for the 21-year-old Pastrnak. It will be difficult to find a better comparable for the dynamic Bruins right winger than the center/winger Draisaitl as they sit at the exact same points in their respective NHL careers.
As Jeff Copetas laid out on twitter, the numbers between the fellow first round picks make a convincing, almost airtight case that they would be comparable players in negotiations:
So what does this mean for Pastrnak and the Bruins now that the ink is dried on Draisaitl’s deal, and Peter Chiarelli is once again holding an impact over Boston’s salary cap situation?
Well, they’re going to have to pay more than the $6 million per season they were hoping to get Pastrnak for on a long-term contract. While Pastrnak may not get exactly the same deal from the Bruins that Draisaitl earned from the Oilers, there is every possibility the 21-year-old is poised to become the highest paid player on the entire team coming off a breakout season where he posted 34 goals and 70 points.
A fair market value contract for Pastrnak could be the exact same eight-year, $60 million contract that Vladimir Tarasenko signed with the St. Louis Blues a couple of years ago. If he really wants to maximize his situation, the Czech right winger would be well within his rights to hold out for $8 million per season for as long as it takes the Bruins to decide they can go there.
It’s a massive deal for a player coming off their entry-level contract with one truly excellent season under their belt, and a big bet that Pastrnak will continue to improve his puck management, his two-way game and his consistency to go along with the electric offensive skills.
But let’s be honest about Pastrnak here. He’s not Phil Kessel, Dougie Hamilton or Tyler Seguin in the best way possible. All of those young, elite Bruins players had issues that ultimately doomed their careers in Boston whether it was Kessel and Hamilton both wanting to play elsewhere, or Seguin treating his career with the Bruins like it was a never-ending episode of The Bachelor.
Pastrnak is committed to reaching his potential as he showed a summer ago by getting bigger and stronger in an effort that paid dividends on the ice, and his carefree, exuberant personality makes him very well-liked in his own dressing room. He wants to play for the Bruins for the long term, and he again showed that by traveling with the Bruins organization to China this summer to promote the Original Six hockey club.
There’s also the simple fact that the Bruins don’t have anybody in their organization that can replace his speed, offensive skills and ability to break open games with his scoring. Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy are the future building blocks for this Bruins franchise for the next 10 years, and the Bruins need to view it that way when they’re investing in them as players.
So the 21-year-old checks off all the boxes in terms of the Bruins feeling good about making a sizeable long term investment, and Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs confirmed on WEEI Wednesday afternoon that the B’s want a six plus year deal with the right wing wunderkind. He’s also exactly the perfect speed, skill and game-breaking fit for a Bruins organization that’s changing their philosophy to a hockey club comprised of more skill/speed over size/physicality.
In a perfect world the Bruins could have signed Pastrnak to a contract that would have fit in with their internal salary structure, and slotted him in behind Brad Marchand ($6.125M), Patrice Bergeron ($6.875M) and David Krejci ($7.25M) among the forwards. But that kind of contract was dead in the water once elite young players like Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ryan Johansen signed massive contract extensions earlier this summer, and it’s become totally unrealistic with the Draisaitl deal coming down in Edmonton.
The good news is that the Bruins have a month before the start of NHL training camp and they have $10 million in salary cap space. They are firmly in a position to get something done with Pastrnak in a way that’s not going to negatively impact him or the franchise, and Don Sweeney now knows the parameters they’re working within. Now it’s just going to cost the Bruins a little bit more than they originally intended, but it’s no secret that 21-year-old goal-scorers with elite offensive skills get paid sooner rather than later in the NHL these days.