Boston Bruins

Could Peter Chiarelli have impact on David Pastrnak's contract talks with Bruins?

Could Peter Chiarelli have impact on David Pastrnak's contract talks with Bruins?

It’s been two full seasons since Peter Chiarelli was fired as the general manager of the Boston Bruins, but the former general manager still might have some say so over Boston’s salary cap situation moving forward. Chiarelli was pushed out in Boston as a result of a long stretch of poor drafts and some ill-advised contracts that edged the Bruins into salary cap trouble. 

He was almost immediately hired as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, and it’s in that capacity with his penchant for giving out generous deals that he might just put the screws once again to the Black and Gold. It all relates to the unresolved negotiations between the Bruins and 21-year-old restricted free agent David Pastrnak as he hits among a talented pool of RFA’s that haven’t yet been signed by their teams more than week since the July 1 open of free agency.

Don Sweeney said last weekend that he continues to speak with Pastrnak’s agent, JP Barry, and the hope is that the Bruins will close a long term deal with him sooner rather than later. 

“Just had some talks this week with [Pastrnak’s] group and hopefully that will lead to a resolution at some point in time, in the near future, but we have no timeline,” said Sweeney, while speaking on the final day of Bruins development camp at Warrior Ice Arena. 

To recap Pastrnak’s situation, there is virtually zero danger of an offer sheet being extended for an RFA in the world of the NHL, so the Bruins aren’t in a whole lot of real danger of that happening with their game-breaking right winger. Furthermore, the B’s have north of $13 million in salary cap space open to match any offer sheets that did theoretically materialize as they enter the typically quiet period of the NHL offseason. 

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Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said that progress was being made on a deal that would pay Pastrnak something just shy, both in term and AAV (average annual value), of the eight year, $49 million contract signed by Brad Marchand last fall. Something more in the neighborhood of six years, $36 million was thought to be what Pastrnak was looking at prior to Connor McDavid, Carey Price and Evgeny Kuznetsov all signing big money deals over the last few weeks.

It sounds like the Bruins have gone from encouraging progress to not much happening since McDavid, Price and Kuznetsov, among others, agreed to inflated deals that may lift the waters for free agent boats around the league when it comes to elite players looking for new contracts. None of them are straight-up comparable players to Pastrnak after his breakout campaign saw him net 34 goals and 70 points last season, but the bottom line is that elite, game-breaking players are seeing spikes to their market value.  

Getting back to Chiarelli and the Oilers, one player that is a direct comparable to Pastrnak is fellow 21-year-old restricted free agent center Leon Draisaitl. The young top flight Edmonton center is still unsigned after McDavid got his $12 million plus per year contract, and there were even mild Draisaitl trade whispers that the Oil won’t be able to afford both of those talented young centers.

Both Pastrnak and Draisaitl were first round picks from the same 2014 draft class, both had breakout third campaigns with comparable numbers and both have been brilliant performers on the international stage over the last couple of seasons. So it makes perfect sense that the hold-up for Pastrnak with the Bruins is simply waiting for Draisaitl to sign with the Oilers, and seeing if he sets a bigger, more lucrative market for his fellow restricted free agents. 

It could very well be that the talented, well-regarded Draisaitl tops $7 million in AAV with the Oilers when it’s all said and done, and that forces Sweeney and the B’s into inflating the final salary numbers for Pastrnak before it’s a done deal. Clearly the Bruins are going to do whatever it takes to lock down a player in Pastrnak that they see as a big building block for the franchise’s future, and that means paying more than they’d like to if it comes to that. 

It would just be the ultimate in hockey irony if it’s another helping of Chiarelli largesse in contract negotiations that ends up costing the B’s once again in the end.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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