In less than one month, the Bruins will hit the ice for training camp. Yet, Don Sweeney still has one more item to cross off on his off-season to-do list.
A pretty important one at that – and one that Sweeney hoped to have done by now.
As the dog days of summer are nearing their conclusion, Sweeney has yet to sign one of the top young stars in the game today, David Pastrnak, to a new contract.
The Bruins GM last gave an update on the contract negotiations with the Pastrnak camp during a conference call with reporters a few weeks ago.
“I’d say we are at the same point that you asked me the last time. We are in a holding pattern,” Sweeney said to the media about the Pastrnak situation. “I have not made much progress as what I would have liked, but we have plenty of time and the opportunity to continue to talk and we will find a landing spot.”
All remains mum since Sweeney’s aforementioned statement. That was until former NHL GM Brian Lawton – now on NHL Network – tweeted this rather head-scratching nugget on Monday.
— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) August 14, 2017
Given the history of the Bruins trading younger talent before entering their primes – specifically Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel – the troubling trend provides the most cynical of Bostonians to think that history might repeat itself.
In the case of Hamilton and Kessel, neither wanted to re-sign with Boston and were pretty vocal about wanting to play elsewhere. Both forced the Bruins’ hands into a trade – unlike the Seguin situation, which was self-inflicted by Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely and Boston’s front office.
Sweeney has made it clear that he wants Pastrnak back in Boston. Pastrnak wants to return, and recently made that proclamation clear during a European Player Tour in Stockholm.
“The guys are great,” Pastrnak told NHL.com. “The city is great. The fans are great. I like the arena. The city is full of good restaurants and young people.
“It’s a club with a big history, so for me it was special coming there. It has a bright future because it has a bright history. There are many guys around there who have been in the League a long time and you learn from them every day.”
As far as the contract negotiations?
“I’m just waiting, leaving it all to my agent [J.P. Barry] to communicate with them,” added Pastrnak in that NHL.com interview. “I’m just focusing on getting ready for next season.
“I’m focusing on getting better and I’m trying not to think about that stuff. I just let it go and something will happen.”
The trade rumor by Lawton begs the question: is this a tactic to speed up negotiations? Perhaps, but, Pastrnak isn’t the only notable RFA still without a long-term contract.
With former GM Peter Chiarelli still looking to sign Leon Draisaitl, Pastrnak’s camp can afford to wait and see how things play out in Edmonton. The two first round picks in 2014 are a reasonable comparable, but it’s unlikely the Bruins would commit to a similar salary to Draisaitl’s if Darren Dreger’s projection (around the $9 million range per season) is correct.
An ideal salary range for the Bruins and Pastrnak is between $6 and $8 million, which would put him in company with fellow forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Given his progression in his first three seasons, there’s no reason to think that the salary projection will change.
The other wrinkle in this? The NHL’s CBA expires in 2020 with an opt out clause for each side in 2019. Since Pastrnak’s contract would likely extend beyond that timeframe, the disparity in lockout-proof money is another indicator that the sides haven’t come to terms yet according to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.
Unless there’s an offer that Sweeney can’t refuse to give up Pastrnak, the 21-year-old is staying put. The Bruins certainly don’t want history to repeat itself from the Seguin, Kessel and Hamilton trades – specifically Seguin and Hamilton.
Certainly, this isn’t the ideal situation, but the odds of Pastrnak being in a Bruins uniform for 2017-18 – and beyond – are still strong, especially after Sweeney’s comments to The Boston Globe that were published by Kevin Paul Dupont on Tuesday.
“Not trading Pastrnak,” Sweeney said in his response via e-mail according to The Boston Globe.