Boston Bruins

Nov 7, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) gets set for a face-off during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over six months since Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that the team was going to be ‘aggressive’ in regards to re-signing pending free agent David Pastrnak to a new contract.

Now, the problem with that is that here on Jan. 15, Pastrnak remains without a contract beyond the 2022-23 season.

It shouldn’t be enough to make anybody go into a full-on panic just yet — a Pastrnak extension with the Bruins is going to be the richest contract in team history and that will always be a ‘difficult’ one to hammer out for a variety of reasons — but it’s a situation that everybody in Boston would like to see settled all the same.

But the good news is that the latest report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman should leave you breathing a tad easier.

  • “Well, I want to be careful with this one, but the word around the league is that the Bruins and Pastrnak have been making some progress,” Friedman said during a Saturday night ’32 Thoughts’ segment. “Don’t get out of control with that, but I just wanna say the word is that it appears as if some progress has been made in that negotiation.

    “I still think there are things that need to get done. But the word as of this Saturday with Pastrnak is progress.”

    Progress is progress, and an uneasy fanbase will take that above silence.

    And the fact that Friedman is both getting this and putting it out there is encouraging. Friedman is too big and his words carry too much weight to just throw something out there from a faulty source. This has typically been the way that Sweeney has operated throughout his Bruins tenure, too. Unless you have a great backchannel or get lucky, the bigger moves involving the Bruins tend to get to league sources before it gets to local sources.

  • Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated at the bench after scoring against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated at the bench after scoring against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Sweeney stayed true to that in the wake of the Friedman update, too, as he offered a quick ‘no’ when asked if he had any update on the Pastrnak negotiations.

    Again, that’s been something Sweeney has been consistent with from the jump, as he’s refused to either negotiation through the media or provide updates on the media.

    And while Sweeney was silent, J.P. Barry, who represents Pastrnak, seemingly confirmed Friedman’s report in a text exchange with the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy on Sunday afternoon.

  • The Bruins did take care of one pending free agent Saturday night, however, with the signing of versatile top-nine forward Pavel Zacha to a four-year, $19 million extension.

    Zacha’s extension is not necessarily directly related to the Pastrnak talks per se, but extending Zacha keeps one of Pastrnak’s fellow countrymen in Boston beyond just this season, and it’s worth mentioning that Zacha and Pastrnak have developed some solid chemistry on the Black and Gold’s second line with David Krejci.

    Zacha’s extension also gives him a number on the Bruins’ books beyond this season, which helps the Bruins manage the rest of the already-tricky cap puzzle and what could and would be left after a Pastrnak extension.

    “I think, as I mentioned earlier, every situation is unique [and] every player is unique,” Sweeney said when asked if the Zacha extension would be the start of more in-season, in-house signings. “In the situation that Pav was in, had an opportunity to take a one-year and turn it into four extra. Everybody else, we will continue to communicate with, and if the opportunity presents itself, and with the support of the organization, between Cam and Charlie and Mr. Jacobs, we’re very fortunate that when we’re in positions to execute, we try and do it right, and we will continue to try to do that moving forward.”

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 03: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins (R) celebrates his first period goal against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers and is joined by Pavel Zacha #18 (L) at Madison Square Garden on November 03, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 03: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins (R) celebrates his first period goal against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers and is joined by Pavel Zacha #18 (L) at Madison Square Garden on November 03, 2022 in New York City. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • One thing is clear, though, and it’s that Pastrnak has set himself up for an absolutely monstrous payday.

    Just beyond the halfway point of the 2022-23 season, Pastrnak leads the Bruins in both goals (33) and points (59) through 42 games played.

    His 33 goals are the second-most in hockey, actually, with only the Oilers’ Connor McDavid (37) on the board with more tallies this season. Pastrnak’s 59 points, meanwhile, rank fifth among all NHL skaters, trailing only the Stars’ Jason Robertson (60), Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov (62), and the Oilers’ one-two punch of Leon Draisaitl (68) and McDavid (83).

    Pastrnak is also fresh off capturing the NHL’s First Star of the Week honors for a scoring bonanza in California, and is currently paced for what would be a 64-goal and 115-point campaign.