With Boston Bruins training camp less than two weeks away, Bruins fans and management alike are waiting anxiously for the one announcement they all want to hear: the signing of David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak, 21, is a restricted free agent with the Bruins since his entry-level contract ended this previous spring. As an RFA, the young Czech winger isn’t in any immediate danger of being stolen away by a pricey offer from another team – the likelihood of a team offer-sheeting Pastrnak is incredibly low, considering the last offer sheet in the league was in 2013. Instead, the major concern with Pastrnak’s new contract with the Bruins is just how much it will cost the team, now and in the long run.
Brad Marchand, arguably the most productive forward on the team against Pastrnak, makes $6.125 million a year. It would be expected that Pastrnak be paid somewhere in that ballpark, if a little bit more since his production is more consistent, and given the fact that David Krejci is the highest paid Bruin at $7.25 million. To compare Pastrnak to another player around his caliber, 23-year-old winger Filip Forsberg is paid $6 million a year by the Nashville Predators. So logically, he would get somewhere between $6.25 and $7.25 million.
But alongside Pastrnak, Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisatl also became a restricted free agent this summer. Coming off a hot season of 77 points and nearly 30 goals, he was definitely expected to receive a pay raise. The two were expected to have similar deals after one was announced, to set a market estimate for their type of player, and on Aug. 16, the figure came through – Draisatl and the Oilers had come to terms on an 8ayear, $8.5 million per year deal.
That money places Draisatl amongst and beyond names such as Erik Karlsson, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Evgeni Malkin. Draisatl is more expensive than any Bruin to date, and he isn’t even the best or highest-paid player on his team. Undoubtedly, Pastrnak and agent J.P. Barry are now asking the Bruins for a paycheck similar to Draisatl’s.
Pastrnak is a productive winger that consistently delivers for the Bruins at a rate that hasn’t often been seen by Bruins fans, given the hot-or-not nights that we’ve lived through from guys like Krejci, Milan Lucic and Marchand. Because of that and his young, explosive talent in the form of fast skating and skillful puck-handling, he’s a player the Bruins can certainly afford to keep around for a few more years to come. And Thelonger, the better.
If the Bruins sign Pastrnak to a six-year deal, they’ll have to worry about re-signing the winger when he’s 27 – which is often when players hit their prime. With that being said, he’ll undoubtedly ask for more money, and for more years – meaning the Bruins would pay more for the latter half of his career when he could be slowing down and not speeding up as he is now.
A longer term contract for him works best here, but not for the price of Draisatl. While the Bruins certainly can afford it with a cap space of $10 million, Pastrnak doesn’t need to be getting paid more than $8 million for just one stellar year, especially when only two of his teammates make above $7 million. Though, he may not necessarily be worth $7 million just yet, especially when compared to Marchand, it feels almost impossible that he’ll take anything less with the new Draisatl deal. An ideal contract would be at least seven years, and worth something around $7.5 million. General manager Don Sweeney doesn’t need to be making the mistakes of his former boss, Peter Chiarelli, in signing players to ridiculously long and expensive contracts preemptively (while Chiarelli is now the Oilers GM and just gave that contract to Draisatl).