Boston Bruins

Bruins likely to reach agreement on long-term deal with Pastrnak

Bruins likely to reach agreement on long-term deal with Pastrnak

The good news is, the David Pastrnak contract negotiations are headed in the right direction.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said as much more than a week ago at the NHL scouting combine, where he updated reporters on contract talks with the impending restricted free agent. Pastrnak is looking at a major raise in pay in his second deal.


“[Pastrnak’s agent] J.P. [Barry] and I have sat down, we’ve had some good discussions,” Sweeney said to reporters in Buffalo at the combine. “It’s moving in the right direction. Timeline, I don’t have. But we expect to complete a deal and for him to be a longtime member of the Boston Bruins. That’s our intention.”

Pastrnak, 21, exploded for 34 goals and 70 points in 75 games in his third NHL season, along with a plus-11 rating, while essentially playing as a top-6 trigger man for either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci. Pastrnak joined an elite group of players -- Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and Sidney Crosby -- with 30 goals and 60 points in a season prior to turning 21 since the salary cap was instituted in 2005.

The feeling is that Pastrnak is just scratching the surface of his potential, and could be an NHL superstar on par with some of those names in another couple of seasons.  

He struggled a bit, understandably, late in the season as opponents keyed on both him and Brad Marchand as Boston’s biggest offensive cogs. But he continued to show that he is every bit as important to the B’s future as fellow gifted youngster Charlie McAvoy.

Watching them hook up for a power-play goal in the the playoffs, one couldn’t help but picture them doing that again and again over the next decade. For that to happen, of course, Sweeney and Barry need to hammer out a deal that’s likely to be long-term and for big money, which has become the norm for elite young players coming out of their entry-level deals.

On the one end of the spectrum is the super team-friendly three-year, $14.3 million deal that Nikita Kucherov signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the 2016-17 season, after which he went out and had a Hart Trophy-worthy year. This would be the absolute best-case scenario and Kucherov is absolutely a comparable to Pastrnak after he posted 30 goals and 66 points in his final entry-level season.

More likely than the Kucherov deal for Boston’s right-wing phenom would be something similar to Artemi Panarin (two years, $12 million) if a bridge deal was the approach. But the belief at this address is both the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp are looking at one of the bigger second contracts, something in the five-to-six year range and perhaps beyond, as the B’s clearly want to build around a player who bought into the team’s program last summer, got bigger and stronger and has dedicated himself to being a complete, game-breaking player at the NHL level.

That would be something similar to the longer-term contracts signed by comparable players at the same point in their NHL careers. Johnny Gaudreau signed a six-year contract for $40.5 million ($6.75 million per season) with the Flames late this past preseason. Sean Monahan agreed to a seven-year, $44.6 million contract ($6.38 million per season) recently. Mark Scheifele (eight years, $49 million), Filip Forsberg (six years, $36 million), and Vladimir Tarasenko (eight years, $60 million) would round out the comparable players in negotiations.

The raft of recent RFA contracts puts Pastrnak’s value squarely in the $6-7 million per season range in a deal that would buy out some of the right winger’s free-agent years but also give him a big chunk of dollars up front while he’s still restricted and fully under team control.

The big question at this point is whether or not Pastrnak is headed for a possible training-camp holdout, as Kucherov and Gaudreau were last season. The circumstance was a bit unique last fall because both of those players were still getting their work in at the World Cup of Hockey rather than sitting at home, and that might have ultimately added to the slow-moving negotiation process.

For those worried this could turn contentious, as it did with guys like Phil Kessel and Dougie Hamilton and led to their departures, the bottom line is this: There are no issues or reservations in Pastrnak's mind when it comes to the team, the coach or the city.

Pastrnak wants to be in Boston with the Bruins. The B’s value the player and his bright future. And a deal is going to get done. 

Morning Skate: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line


Morning Skate: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading. while readying for the last home game of the preseason tonight. Boy that went by quickly.

*Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for the right mix on the fourth line for the Hawks.

*The NHL is coming late to the China party and it makes one wonder what will happen for the Winter Olympic Games set to be played there in 2022.

*PHT writer Adam Gretz has the Arizona Coyotes wanting to retire the freshly-retired Shane Doan’s number in the future.

*Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says that the decision to accept the White House’s invitation was independent of politics. Certainly, it was, but the timing of it and the feeble statement to go along with it left a lot to be desired.

*Pierre Lebrun goes 1-on-1 with Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien to talk about his past, his present and his future behind the bench with the Habs. I had always intended to subscribe to the Athletic, and this is the article that finally got me to do it as I get to read a few moments with one of the classiest individuals in the NHL in Julien. It certainly had a few rocky moments toward the end here in Boston for Julien, but I will always respect that guy as a coach and, more importantly, as a person.  

*For something completely different: an interesting look at Alejandro Villanueva, the only Pittsburgh Steelers player, and a proud veteran, to stand outside the tunnel and on the field for the national anthem prior to the Steelers game on Sunday.


'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp


'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara is one of the oldest players in the NHL at 40 and sometimes those players need a little more time to rest and recharge than the up-and-coming skaters half their age in training camp. That’s the case with Chara as he sat out practice on Monday feeling “under the weather” according to the Bruins. He didn’t skate on Sunday either and won’t play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston’s final home game of the preseason tonight.

Similarly, Kenny Agostino won’t be playing tonight after he suffered an upper-body injury in a victory last week over the Flyers, where the winger also scored the winning goal in overtime. Instead, a couple of young players will get further looks as Matt Grzelcyk is expected to be paired with Brandon Carlo and young Ryan Fitzgerald will get another look in the spot where a healthy Agostino might have drawn back into the lineup on Monday.

“We’re looking for [the young guys] to keep pushing, consistency and be strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re getting closer to NHL lineups with most teams like us and paring down, in general. The expectation is that they’ll see that 82 times. Fitzy has been a nice surprise. I shouldn’t say surprise because I didn’t know a lot about him. But he’s done what we’ve asked, so we’ll give him another game. The Agostino injury has opened up a door as he was probably a guy that would have gone back in after [Thursday] night, has played well and is another guy we don’t know a lot about. So it’s a good opportunity for [Fitzgerald]. I thought he was ahead of some of the other [young] guys, so that’s why we put him back in.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings tonight with just two more exhibition games to go before the regular season gets started: