David Pastrnak wants to stay with the Bruins. He also wants to win a Stanley Cup. Boston may not be his best shot at that over the next 7-8 years. So, what gives?
Pastrnak and the Bruins are staring down the barrel of a training camp completed without a long-term deal in place. Bruins GM Don Sweeney indicated in his most recent press conference that he wouldn’t be concerned about going into the regular season, the final one of Pastrnak’s current contract, without locking up his star right wing. But that’s really when the situation should get worrisome.
It’s possible that all these Pastrnak contract discussions are for naught (other than the pageviews and the podcast plays!), and the two sides reach a deal during camp. Which is exactly what happened in 2017, when the Bruins got a deal done with Pastrnak in mid-September. But what if Pastrnak and his camp decide to explore other options?
That’s what Ty Anderson and I discussed as part of the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast. Listen above for the Pastrnak portion of the conversation.
What Does Pastrnak Want?
May 6, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his power play goal with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) behind him during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Essentially, the whole situation could come down to how badly Pastrnak wants to get paid, and who has the cap space to accommodate him for a potential top-of-the-market deal. But if Pastrnak really does want to position himself for a Stanley Cup championship, that would certainly limit his options. The Bruins objectively wouldn’t be his best opportunity to win it all, though, unless you’re projecting at least 3-4 years out, and you’re assuming they’ve infused the roster with a handful of new young stars.
We’ll believe that when we see it.
There’s at least one team in the National Hockey League that ought to concern Bruins fans, which we’ll cover below. If Pastrnak gets serious about maximizing his next contract, he could really hold Sweeney’s feet to the fire, because of the mere potential for other suitors around the league. He’d honestly be doing Sweeney a huge favor if he agrees to a long-term contract with an AAV under $10 million.
That may yet happen, but until then, it’s fair to wonder who could have a chance to lure Pastrnak away from Boston, with promises of big paychecks and a real chance to hoist the Stanley Cup in June. Here’s the list Ty and I came up with on the podcast…
New York Rangers
Projected 2023-24 Cap Space: $18.3 million
Feb 15, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save on Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
This is the one. The Rangers seem closer to a Cup than the Bruins right now, after making the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They have a glut of high-end talent (Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad), rising stars on their entry-level deals (Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko), and an elite young goaltender in Igor Shesterkin. Oh, and they can easily fit a Pastrnak deal under their cap for 2023-24 and beyond.
Not to mention, the Rangers are set on the left side and could use an impact right wing. Kakko could be that guy, eventually, but he may need another 2-3 years to realize his full potential. Why not make a move for Pastrnak in the meantime? Imagine him and Panarin on the same line…
New Jersey Devils
Projected 2023-24 Cap Space: $36.5 million
Mar 31, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler (71) defends Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
The rest of this list is mainly populated with teams that have to pop next season to look like true contenders. But this is one of them. New Jersey is well-positioned to throw the bag at someone in the summer of 2023, when the free-agent class is projected to be loaded (Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Miller). So it’s logical that Pastrnak could be on their radar if he hits the open market.
The Devils have already locked up their top-2 centers, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, and signed Ondrej Palat to anchor the left wing group. They could use an impact guy on the right wing. Pastrnak and Hughes together would be deadly. Even if Pastrnak ends up staying in Boston, watch out for New Jersey in free agency next summer.
Los Angeles Kings
Projected 2023-24 Cap Space: $17.5 million
Dec 17, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy (3) moves the puck away from Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
The first year of a Pastrnak deal in L.A. would be the final one of Anze Kopitar’s ($10 million), so their cap space is set to really open up. They don’t necessarily have a better roster than the Bruins as it stands right now, but they have been in the market for a high-scoring winger for years, and 2020 second-overall pick Quinton Byfield is a stud in the making.
Los Angeles’ signing of Kevin Fiala ($7.8 million AAV) could possibly deter them from sinking even more money into a top-6 winger, but Pastrnak is a much safer bet to score 40-50 goals and 80-plus points than Fiala will be. If Pastrnak ends up a free agent next summer, we could be talking about the Kings as a suitor coming off a breakout year.
Detroit Red Wings
Projected 2023-24 Cap Space: $43.1 million
Oct 13, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing David Pastrnak (88) moves the puck during the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Does GM Steve Yzerman have his Red Wings ready to be good again? The NHL has enjoyed a nice, long period of futility for the once-dominant franchise. But now they have a franchise center in Dylan Larkin, an emerging Norris Trophy candidate in defenseman Moritz Seider, and a solid middle class of veterans around them.
Detroit will need to allocate some of their future cap space for Seider and Larkin, the latter of which is also entering the final year of his contract. But if they can lock those two up, and add Pastrnak to that lineup, they should finally be back to “contender” status. They could get there next year, and become a serious suitor for any of the big-name free agents.
Projected 2023-24 Cap Space: $20.5 million
Feb 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) skates with the puck in front of Seattle Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson (6) during the first period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
This team may have to convince Pastrnak that they’re on the verge of a Golden Knights-like meteoric rise to the top of the NHL ranks. That could even come next season, which would position them well in the free-agent market for guys who want to win. If Pastrnak could be sold on the idea of being Seattle’s “face of the franchise,” that could be an avenue they have to take.
Roster-wise, the Kraken have high hopes for No. 4 overall pick Shane Wright, who was projected by many to go first to the Montreal Canadiens. They passed on Wright, and he gave them a death stare when he took the stage at the draft. So there’s at least some competitive juice in there. The Kraken have a glut of solid veterans, but an addition like Pastrnak could take them to the next level.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the Pastrnak situation, as well as everything surrounding the 2022-23 Bruins season, here at 985TheSportsHub.com. And you can get some good Bruins talk every single week with me and Ty Anderson on the Sports Hub Underground. Listen below for this week’s episode.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.