This morning we have dueling articles from Boston radio stations: Matt Kalman of 98.5 The SportsHub/CBS Local and Ty Anderson of WEEI. Both posts basically hit upon the same theme, one that we’ve become accustomed to here: the signing of David Pastrnak.
In his column, Ty Anderson starts by talking about Don Sweeney and his maturity as a GM, leading into how this will benefit him in making a deal with Pastrnak. In the past two offseasons, Sweeney bit too soon on trades (Hamilton, Rinaldo) and signed a longer deal than warranted (McQuaid). Sweeney though seems to learned from these instances becoming more calculated in the last season. This is important when negotiating with Pasta. Kalman doesn’t get involved with Sweeney, preferring to jump right in to the talk of the deal.
Both talk about how an ideal contract would be identical to that of Filip Forsberg- 6 years at $6 million. Both also talk about the hesitancy to sign the 21 year-old Pastrnak to a deal with greater AAV than that of Patrice Bergeron or even David Krejci.
At the same time, however, the Bruins likely have a ceiling in terms as to where they’d like to go when it comes to re-signing Pastrnak to a long-term deal. It has not been said by anybody within the B’s organization, so this is strictly speculation on my behalf, but you wonder if there’s an internal cap in the sense that Sweeney doesn’t want to pay anybody more than the $6.875 million they’re paying Patrice Bergeron per season until 2022. Granted, they’re already doing that with David Krejci’s $7.25 million cap hit, but that was a Chiarelli extension, and since then Bergeron has really emerged as the undeniable face of this franchise and the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara’s captaincy.
And no player has come in even close to matching or exceeding that under Sweeney.
A win for the Bruins would be convincing Pastrnak to sign the same long-term deal that Brad Marchand inked before the start of last season (an eight-year, $49 million deal with a $6.125 million cap hit). But Pastrnak is 21 and Marchand was 28 when he signed that deal, meaning that Pastrnak’s next deal would come when he’s approaching 30, which may not be in his best interest given the developmental ascension he displayed last season (read as: robbing himself of a potential bigger payday, with contracts for far worse players surely bound to increase as the cap does in due time of his true prime).
And that brings me to another point some have raised about the Bruins having their own internal salary cap based on David Krejci ($7.25 million cap charge), Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million), Brad Marchand ($6.125 million) and David Backes ($6 million). This seems fair until you consider that except for Marchand the other three players are aged 31, 31, and 33. It shouldn’t be Pastrnak’s fault that the Bruins have opted — like most teams in the NHL — to pay players past 30 years old for what they accomplished in the past more than what they’re going to provide in the future. Bergeron might be an exception because of his gifts in the skills and athleticism department, but does anyone expect Backes are Krejci to ever match their best years? And don’t forget Bergeron dropped from 68 to 53 points — could be an anomaly or a sign of slowing down.
That’s why Pastrnak is so important to the Bruins. He’s not even in his prime and is one of the league’s most lethal goal scorers. He has a speed dynamic the Bruins might not get from another forward for a couple years while some of the prospects are maturing.
Pastrnak has every right to ask to be paid as the Bruins’ best forward because he’s the one whose best years are ahead of him. If the Bruins are holding up the works with Pastrnak because they don’t want to offend Bergeron or Marchand, they’re batty. It’s important to keep Pastrnak happy, especially because even if he signs a Tarasenko-level deal, he’ll probably be a bargain in a year or two as goal-scorer salaries continue to increase.
Just like employees in other fields, athletes want to paid commensurate with their merits and experience level not just on future performance.
Later on, Kalman argues for a “lockout-proof” deal for Pastrnak:
But if the Bruins are fully committed to challenging for their second Stanley Cup title in 42-plus years of Jacobs ownership, they have to please their best players, especially the ones with youth, speed and the ability to become one of the most dominant players in the NHL and in this city.
Anderson goes on to say how the Bruins GM can lose and probably bring down the whole organization:
The one way for Sweeney to lose this negotiation? A one or two-year bridge deal.
Rarely if ever has a bridge deal worked out with a player of this caliber. It’s how the Canadiens ending up making P.K. Subban a $9 million a year player (Subban agreed to a two-year, $5.75 million contract when he and the Canadiens first struggled to find footing on a long-term deal) after a two-year run that only validated his status as one of the league’s best at his position. And it’s surely what would happen with Pastrnak and the B’s, too, and a two-year deal would set up him to need a new contract at the same time that Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy need new deals. If those players grow into the roles most expect them to, that would be a beyond tricky situation for Sweeney to work his way out of, and require some Lightning-esque salary cap maneuvering.
It’s also worth mentioning that Sweeney has yet to lose a negotiation.
Yep, it sounds like a whole lot of maneuvering needs to happen here to nail down a contract.