Boston Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins in good position as Pastrnak sits in RFA market

Haggerty: Bruins in good position as Pastrnak sits in RFA market

While the Bruins are still on the lookout for a left shot, top-four defenseman and a possible left-wing candidate for David Krejci’s line, their biggest priority of the offseason is very clearly a new contract for David Pastrnak.

The restricted free agent is up for renewal and, as of July 1, can receive offer sheets from other teams, though we all know that hostile takeover offers for RFA’s simply don’t happen that often in the NHL.

MORE BRUINS

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed Saturday that the B’s would be matching any offer sheets that do come in for the 21-year-old, ultra-skilled, game-breaking right winger, and that Boston has roughly $13 million in cap space to protect their coveted young asset.

“We’re in really good position in that way,” Sweeney said in reference to the cap situation and possible offer sheets. “We’re having really good dialogue; we just haven’t found [an agreement]. In a perfect world, yeah, [we'd have] buttoned that up, but it just hasn’t happened to this point in time. I don’t comment on where things are at, other than we’re committed to the player and we’d like to find a long-term deal.”

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations say that Pastrnak is tracking toward a deal slightly less than Brad Marchand’s eight-year, $49 million contract extension signed last fall, both in terms of AAV (Average Annual Value) and the length of the contract. So, the parameters could be something in the neighborhood of six years, $36 million for Pastrnak, but both sides have indicated that a deal isn’t even done even though the “dialogue” and “progress” have been very good to this point.

Likewise, there doesn’t appear to be any inclination whatsoever for Pastrnak to want to test the offer-sheet market or show any kind of restricted free-agent curiosity to see what other teams could be offering. 

Instead, it would seem some of the hold-up is a wait-and-see approach with the contract resolutions with other similarly elite restricted free agents such as Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid agreed to an eight-year, $100 million extension on Wednesday that has an AAV of $12.5 million per year. Draisaitl, Edmonton’s No. 2 center, probably won’t be too far behind that, thanks to his combination of explosiveness, production and skill. With Evgeny Kuznetsov signing a deal with Washington that pays him almost $8 million per season and Carey Price now getting paid more than $10 million per season on an eight-year deal with the Canadiens, it would appear that elite players are getting a pretty massive bump in pay across the league.

The concern is that kind of trend could blow up Pastrnak’s number, severely alter Boston’s interior salary structure, and force the B's to spend the kind of money they don’t really want to spend. But Pastrnak, still approaching the limits of his potential, had 34 goals and 70 points last year and joined an elite group of players -- Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and Sidney Crosby -- who, since the salary cap was instituted in 2005, totaled 30 goals and 60 points in a season prior to turning 21.

There are still plenty of comparable contracts to Pastrnak that come in around the $6 million AAV, which makes the B’s feel comfortable about their place in negotiations. That would be something similar to the longer-term contracts signed by similar 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.

On the shorter term, both Nikita Kucherov (three years, $14.3 million) and Artemi Panarin (two years, $12 million) would fit into the comparable category as well if both sides can’t end up agreeing on a longer-term contract.

There’s no doubt Pastrnak’s camp could begin to use contracts such as McDavid's and Tarasenko's as high-end comparable deals if they don’t get exactly what they want, and that’s something Sweeney was ready to face head on.

“Is [McDavid] a comparable? Sure, in their minds, I’m sure he is," Sweeney said. "I don’t know if I’d draw a direct line in terms . . . there are a lot of guys that have signed. It doesn’t make the other guys irrelevant that have signed that you’re comparing that player to. There are internal caps, internal structures on everybody’s individual team. I’m not going to talk about any other players. I’m going to talk about my own players in terms of when we go into contract negotiations. There will be plenty of comps, we’re not just going to use one.”

Whatever the case, everybody involved has to hope that their forward progress helps them cross the finish line with a new, long-term Pastrnak deal well before training camp. Any potential holdout could negatively impact what should be a dominant fourth season for the fun-loving Czech kid they call “Pasta.”

Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating Jimmy Kimmel more with each passing day.

*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on his move to The Athletic. Here he details why he’ll now be covering the Sharks for them.

*Joffrey Lupul has apologized for intimating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are “cheating” when it comes to player injuries.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Loui Eriksson looking to bounce back with the Vancouver Canucks after a tough first year there. He’ll probably be better than he was last season, but one thing I learned about Eriksson during his time in Boston is that you’re not going to see his best unless there’s a reason for him to be at his best. Sitting in Vancouver in the middle of a comfortable, big money contract on a mediocre-to-bad hockey team isn’t exactly going to ratchet up the urgency.

*Tampa Bay defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev has “NHL written all over him” after a strong start to training camp with the Lightning. That’s music to management’s ears down there after they gave up Jonathan Drouin for him in the offseason.

*Nick Cotsonika chronicles the “big first step” that the NHL has made into China with an exhibition game there between the Kings and Canucks.

*This blog post pokes fun at Don LaGreca for a rant about geometry, but I agree with his overall point that the vast majority of people choose to like sports exactly because it doesn’t include these complex mathematical formulas that the fancy stats brigade is trying to introduce into the sports world with more and more force.

 

Bruins' Krug suffers fractured jaw, out at least three weeks

bruins_torey_krug_091917.jpg

Bruins' Krug suffers fractured jaw, out at least three weeks

BRIGHTON -- Now that the preseason games have started, it was inevitable that the injuries were going to start popping up for the Bruins.

Torey Krug will be out at least three weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his jaw after taking a puck to the mouth in the second period of Tuesday night’s win over the Red Wings. And both Matt Beleskey (foot contusion) and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (upper body) are considered day-to-day with injuries.

Forsbacka Karlsson tumbled head-first into the end boards in the second period Tuesday. Beleskey suffered his injury in Monday night’s win over the Canadiens in Quebec City.

The Krug injury is significant, of course, and likely to cause him to miss at least the first few games of the regular season. It’s a tough break for the puck-moving defenseman, who missed all of last year’s playoffs because of a knee injury after staying healthy for the first 81 games.

It will give the Bruins a chance to give much closer looks to younger, left-shot defensemen like Matt Grzelcyk, Robbie O’Gara, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril. All three were ticketed to start the year in Providence.

Here is the expected lineup for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden, with Anders Bjork getting his first official look while skating right wing on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron:
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
Gabrielle-Nash-Acciari
Blidh-Cave-Senyshyn
Agostino-Spooner-Heinen
 
Chara-Carlo
Grzelcyk-Cross
Lauzon-Postma