Boston Bruins

  • It’s been over two months since Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said they were going to be ‘extremely aggressive’ with 2023 free agent David Pastrnak.

    Normally, you’d let a comment like that slide and remain patient. But the ‘aggressive’ buzzword was said multiple times. And yet here we are, less than two weeks away from the start of the regular season, and Pastrnak still doesn’t have a new contract.

    It’s certainly not panic time (probably not even close actually), but that’s not exactly what you’d consider awesome — or, in this case, aggressive.

    But the sides may be closer to an agreement, according to the latest update from TSN’s Darren Dreger, as provided on the latest edition of “Insider Trading.”

    “Well look, I mean we’re talking about a superstar player in Pastrnak with the Boston Bruins and it’s a process,” Dreger said in the Thursday night segment. “We use that word a lot when we’re talking about extensions or negotiations period. Both sides are accessing the market right now.

    “I can tell you that contract discussions have heated up since training camp has opened. Relatively quiet over the course of the summer. Not unusual. There were some preliminary discussions at the Draft. Pastrnak understands and is clearly hopeful that something will get done sooner than later, but the Bruins continue to do their due diligence.”

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 26: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period at TD Garden on April 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 26: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period at TD Garden on April 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • In defense of the Bruins, ‘assessing the market’ is no easy feat.

    Not in this economy, anyway.

    Similar to the summer leading up to Charlie McAvoy’s franchise-record extension with the Bruins, this has been the summer of elite forwards getting paid.

    Swapping forwards this past summer, the Panthers welcomed Matt Tkachuk to Sunrise with an eight-year, $76 million ($9.5 million average annual value) contract, while the Flames inked Jonathan Huberdeau to an eight-year, $84 million ($10.5 million average annual value) contract.

    Then Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon blew everybody out of the water when he signed an eight-year extension worth $100.8 million ($12.6 million average annual value). The yearly cap hit of that MacKinnon contract, which will go into effect in 2023-24, is the richest in NHL history.

    Speaking before the official start of training camp, Sweeney wouldn’t outright tell me whether or not those contracts have reconfigured the negotiations with Pastrnak, but admitted that “there’s always goalposts and framing.”

  • And the Bruins have appeared more than willing to pay Pastrnak what he’s owed.

    One of the game’s top goal scorers (Pastrnak’s 215 goals since 2016 are the fifth-most in hockey), the Bruins view Pastrnak as a foundational piece of their present and their future, and essentially as the 1B to McAvoy’s 1A.

    They’re not particularly interested in messing around for the fun of it.

    “In a perfect world, as we referenced, to try and be aggressive, to have him sign long-term as a lifelong Bruin, that’s always been our goal,” Sweeney said earlier this month. “Ideally I’d like to get it done at the earliest point possible, and hopefully he feels the exact same way and his camp. So, that’s what our goal is.”

    Fortunately, it appears to be a shared goal.

  • Mar 3, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 3, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period at T-Mobile Arena. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

  • “Yeah, of course,” Pastrnak said earlier this month when asked about his hopes of getting a deal done with the Bruins. “This city is where I got the chance to become the player I am and to become the human being I am.

    “The Boston organization has played an unbelievable part in it. I came here as a kid, and now I’m a man, you know? So, I’m extremely happy. A lot of great memories. And as I said many times, I love it here and it’s an honor to wear the jersey.”

    The idea of things beginning to ‘heat up’ from a negotiation standpoint only makes sense when you hear comments like that and with the ‘training camp window’ started to close on the sides. (For what it’s worth, there’s no known training camp deadline between the sides. It’s just been where the Bruins have preferred to get their business done, as to avoid it hanging over a player or the team into the year.)

    So, what will it take to get Pastrnak officially in Boston for the foreseeable future?

  • Oct 6, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) during a media timeout during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 6, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • I’ve said it once before, so I’ll say it again: It really does feel like an eight-year, $76 million deal would be a reasonable one for both sides. That would give Pastrnak the same average annual value ($9.5 million) as the Lighting’s Nikita Kucherov and Tkachuk in Florida. Those are two of the best right wings in the Atlantic Division, and wouldn’t hamstring the Bruins to the point where they would be unable to add a high-end center (a definite need) in the early years of Pastrnak’s new deal.

    It would also tie Pastrnak with McAvoy for both the richest contract in team history and in terms of the average annual value. That would speak to the idea that both players are what the Bruins consider to be their No. 1 and No. 2 players on the depth chart for this next window of Bruins hockey.

    But honestly, Pastrnak could very well be a $10 million player for this team. With the way they’ve struggle to develop high-end goal-scoring talents, Pastrnak is a true irreplaceable for the Bruins. Between the aforementioned fifth-most goals in hockey over the last six seasons to a point total that ranks as the 12th-most over that same span, there’s no scenario in which the Bruins move on from Pastrnak and emerge victorious. He’s that kind of player for the Black and Gold.

    No matter the number the sides ultimately land on to keep No. 88 in Boston, the hold up will come with how the deal is structured. (Hell, that could be the hold up at this very moment.)

    As we’ve seen with all of these big-money deals, the devil is in the details, with tons of contracts structured with massive signing bonuses and low base salaries. For example, a staggering $68 million of that $76 million Tkachuk contract with the Panthers will be paid via signing bonuses, and MacKinnon’s $100.8 million contract features over $85 million in signing bonus money.

    That can be the hockey negotiation equivalent of a (make it) rain delay, as we’re learning.

    But with talks ‘heating up’ (and such word coming from an external source), it appears that some of that oft-repeated aggression has indeed — and perhaps finally — arrived.