BOLTON, Mass – With the start of NHL training camp just a couple of days away and 21-year-old David Pastrnak still unsigned, both sides continue to brace for leverage and the upper hand in negotiations. The latest unconfirmed development is a report from a KHL Hockeybuzz reporter, Aivis Kalnins, that Pastrnak has “multiple offers” on the table from the KHL if he and the Bruins can’t come to a suitable agreement for the restricted free agent.
As of Monday evening, there was no confirmation or denial to CSN New England from Pastrnak’s agent, JP Barry, in an email seeking clarification on the report.
The Bruins have a couple of confirmed offers of six and seven years at $6 million per season that are months old at this point. Pastrnak’s camp made a counter-offer over the last few weeks for a maximum eight years that’s believed to be in the neighborhood of $8 million per season. That leaves a wide gap between the organization and the player’s camp on the 21-year-old that broke out for 34 goals and 70 points last season.
It would certainly appear there’s a middle ground there with Pastrnak eventually getting something in the $7-7.5 million per season range that Vladimir Tarasenko earned a couple of years ago in a comparable situation to the B’s right winger. But there’s been little budging from either side and that leaves tactics out of the negotiating playbook, including threats to have the Czech-born Pastrnak skip the NHL season and play in Russia instead.
It’s the same threat restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou has attempted to use to pry a bigger contract out of the Detroit Red Wings this summer, and the same tactic Torey Krug’s camp used when he eventually held out in training camp a couple of seasons ago. It certainly feels like a ploy to get the Bruins to finally pony up the money that Pastrnak is rightfully asking for.
The difference in Pastrnak's case being the massive void on the right wing that would be there for the Bruins if the game-breaking forward took his talents to Russia for the season. Boston has botched things with other elite young talents like Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel, and doing so once again with an elite young player would only cement that reputation.
One potential sticking point to a massive contract for Pastrnak that was debunked on Monday was any potential issues with his Bruins teammates should he become one of the highest paid players on the team. In fact, Brad Marchand said it was exactly the opposite despite the Bruins agitator going a different route and taking a hometown discount last fall with an eight-year deal that pays him $6.125 million per season.
“We all want to see each other be successful,” said Marchand at the Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament at the International on Monday. “[Pastrnak] had a great year last year so we’ll be very happy for him with whatever he ends up getting. The contract that he signs, Pasta’s going to make a lot of money, he’s a phenomenal player, he’s 21 years old, and he’s going to have a long career. We all like to see each other be successful and do well, and that’s the way the game goes.
“The league’s trending upwards and the contracts are getting higher and higher. You look around and some of the deals that were thrown out this summer for young guys, it wasn’t like that three or four years ago and that’s the way it is now. So again, we’re all very happy for one another, and whatever he gets is going to help other guys get more too. So that’s just the way it is.”
Perhaps the Bruins value their internal salary structure so much that they don’t make a restricted free agent one of the team’s highest paid players while coming off an entry level contract, and that means pushing him toward an AAV (Average Annual Value) below Marchand, Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million) or David Krejci ($7.25 million) . But it’s clear by the words of both Marchand and Bergeron that they don’t begrudge the 21-year-old Pastrnak doing whatever he can to maximize his payday, but doing so while also making certain he’s signed, sealed and delivered back to Boston sooner rather than later.