Pastrnak and Bruins seem headed for happier ending than Butler and Pats

Pastrnak and Bruins seem headed for happier ending than Butler and Pats

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.

Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

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Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while putting the pieces together now that the hockey season is O-V-A-H here in Boston. 
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur takes a look at the end of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put on a good show with their young, talented crew. 
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here is this morning’s interview with Toucher and Rich where I talked about the Bruins taking a step forward despite their season being over. 
 
-- He might look and sound like a Bond Villain, but Guy Boucher was far from it in stopping to shake hands with Senators fans at the airport after their playoff win over the B’s. 
 
-- Interesting that John Stevens is named head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, since the change isn’t expected to be a big departure from what was already going on there. 
 
-- The San Jose Sharks are all done for this season, and one wonders if GM Doug Wilson is going to have to choose between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau moving forward. 

 -- Speaking of the Senators, PHT writer James O’Brien has Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson making Ottawa’s playoff victory all the more emotional

 -- For something completely different: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is coming to a theatre near you soon, and here’s a review. I’m looking forward to this one.

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

BOSTON -- After the Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, nearly every player was in agreement in identifying the turning point of the season:

The coaching change.

The B's went 18-8-1 in the regular season after Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien and rallied to make the playoffs after a late-season, four-game tailspin had them in danger of missing out for the third straight year. And despite being ravaged by injuries, they showed fight and spirit in pushing Ottawa to six games, including a road victory in a double-overtime, Game 5 thriller, before eventually succumbing in overtime, 3-2, on Sunday.

Certainly there were moments of sloppiness -- ill-timed penalties, moments when the Bruins simply couldn't bust through Ottawa's 1-3-1 trap -- but Boston's gutty playoff showing, coupled with the regular-season surge, makes it seem clear Cassidy deserves to be awarded the full-time head coaching gig. 

Several Bruins players voiced their endorsement of Cassidy on Sunday, lauding him for bringing energy, offensive thrust, and open-mindedness to using younger players. 

"The results speak for themselves," said David Backes, who played some of his best hockey in Games 5 and 6 once he was paired with center Sean Kuraly. "We were climbing uphill when [Cassidy] took over and we made our way [to the playoffs] . . . [He] certainly did a heck of a job."

And how does Cassidy -- who had gone more than 13 years since his last NHL head coaching job before replacing Julien on an interim basis, and spending the previous eight seasons at the AHL level in Providence -- feel? 

"Absolutely. 100 percent," said Cassidy, when asked if he wanted the Boston job on a permanent basis.

And if he got it, perhaps those improvements would continue.

"Maybe a full year with him, he changes a few things," said Backes.

"That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach, and what players will be here will [also] be determined by management," said Cassidy. "So it's a tough question to answer [on what improvements need to be made]. I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play . . . and we were always a good forechecking team. This series took on a personality that we were going to have to score on the forecheck. 

"I thought that's why you see guys like [Noel] Acciari and Kuraly get into the lineup and really contribute. It's the strength of their game, and maybe less so from other guys that are more line rush guys. Don't forget, we had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of National Hockey League playoffs. So there's a learning curve for them and that's part of the growth process that we hope that, if we're sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year. That's what every team goes through and the [David] Pastrnaks of the world, [Charlie] McAvoy . . . pick your players that are new to it, and [they] have to learn from [it]."

The decision to start Anton Khudobin in Brooklyn late in the regular season after the Bruins had lost four in a row was a turning point-type move, where Cassidy certainly pushed some buttons with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask. And his insertion of Kuraly for Ryan Spooner in Game 5 worked on every level, and probably prolonged the series. So give him credit for both of those things along with the pumped-up offense he helped orchestrate in the final few months of the regular season. 

The Bruins won't be making any public statements or pronouncements on Monday, but one has to assume Cassidy holds the inside track on the job after guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in three years. Certainly there may be courtesy interviews for other candidates like Providence College coach Nate Leaman, but it's difficult to see anything else Cassidy would have to accomplish to be fit for the position. 

As Backes said himself, the results speak for themselves.