David Pastrnak still doesn't have a contract beyond the upcoming 2022-23 NHL season, but the Boston Bruins star is optimistic that the two sides will find common ground on a new deal at some point.
"Yeah, of course," Pastrnak told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday. "This city is where I got the chance to become the player I am -- become the human being I am. ... I came here as a kid and now I'm a man. I'm extremely happy, lots of great memories. I've said many times, I love it here, and it's an honor to wear this jersey."
Is Pastrnak's No. 1 priority to remain in Boston?
"Yeah, obviously we love it here. This is our home," Pastrnak said. "This is where I became a man. I've spent unbelievable years with Rebecca and we are really happy here. Obviously, my focus moving forward is to be ready for Game 1 (of the regular season). We're going to be missing some key players and I know I have to be on my game from the get-go. That's my biggest focus. I just got back here yesterday and settling back in from the summer. I can't wait to get going and play some hockey."
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TSN's Darren Dreger reported Friday "the two sides are talking" but that "nothing (is) close yet."
Pastrnak is entering the final year of a six-year, $40 million contract that began in 2017-18, which carries a salary cap hit of $6.67 million. It's been one of the most team-friendly deals in the league given Pastrnak's excellent offensive production.
The 26-year-old right winger led the team with 40 goals in 70 games last season. He has hit the 40-goal mark twice in his career, and he's the only Bruins player to reach it since Glen Murray in 2002-03. Pastrnak has averaged 35.8 goals scored over the last six seasons, and only five players in the league have scored more than him over the last three years.
A contract with an annual average value (AAV) between $9-10 million would be fair for both sides. Charlie McAvoy currently has the highest AAV on the B's at $9.5 million. The Bruins are the only team that can offer Pastrnak an eight-year deal. If Pastrnak hits free agency next summer, the longest contract he can sign would be for seven seasons.