Should Pastrnak stay in the black and gold?

Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated by center Craig Smith (12) after his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Photo by James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the most looming questions for the Boston Bruins is whether or not star forward David Pastrnak will re-sign with the team. He is currently playing on the last year of the six-year, 40-million-dollar contract he signed back in 2017. 

Hockey insider Darren Dreger recently reported that “contract discussions have heated up since camp has opened.” This comes despite reports that Pastrnak has negative feelings towards Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who has been receiving heavy criticism from the fanbase. 

At the beginning of training camp, Pastrnak reassured the city when asked if he was optimistic that a deal would get done, saying, “Yeah, of course. I’ve said many times, I love it here. It’s an honor to wear this jersey.” As a loyal fan of the Bruins for many years, I do believe that the Bruins should bring back “Pasta” long-term. 

Pastrnak has been a member of the Bruins and a big part of their core group since 2014. He has been one third of the perfection line, alongside captain Patrice Bergeron and assistant captain Brad Marchand. 

A two-time All-Star, Pastrnak has been incredibly productive during his time in Beantown. He has been a point per game player in four of his six full seasons with the team, posting career highs in goals (48) and points (95) in the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season. For his efforts, Pastrnak was awarded the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, given to the player who scores the most goals in the regular season. Since breaking into the league, the Czech forward has 504 points in 510 regular season games and 74 points in 70 career playoff games. He is widely regarded as one of the best goal scorers in the entire league. 

The direction of the Bruins organization is up in the air as their core group gets older. Patrice Bergeron, 37 years old, is only under contract for this season after contemplating retirement at the end of 2021. Fellow Czech David Krejci is back after going overseas last season. However, he is also under contract for just this season and will soon be 37 years old. 34-year-old Brad Marchand is out until late November after getting hip surgery this off-season and their top young defenseman, Charlie McAvoy, is out until around Thanksgiving or early December (assuming no major setbacks) for his recovery from shoulder surgery. 

On a positive note, the Bruins seem to have their goaltender of the future in Jeremy Swayman, who impressed last season and is only 23 years old. In addition, the Bruins are bringing in a brand-new head coach, Jim Montgomery, who will be the successor to Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy was shockingly fired in June after having decent success with the team, although there are rumors that Cassidy wasn’t very highly regarded in the locker room. 

At full strength, I think the Bruins can be a playoff team and a Stanley Cup contender despite being in a very competitive Atlantic Division competing with Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida and a much-improved Ottawa team. I believe the core group still has one or two kicks at the can, especially with the supporting cast of Taylor Hall, Hampus Lindholm, Jake DeBrusk and others. They also are very high on 2021 first round pick Fabian Lysell and 2020 first round pick John Beecher, as both had strong showings in the preseason. I don’t think the future is as grim as some people make it out to be, and I think the Bruins can still be competitive for years to come — but it would require the in-house, talented No. 88 to be a part of it. 

Sweeney and the Bruins should be able to afford a big contract for Pastrnak.  After seeing inferior players like Tim Stützle (eight years at a $8.35 million AAV) and Mathew Barzal (eight years at a $9.15 million AAV) sign massive deals with their teams, you can imagine that “Pasta” will demand north of both of those contracts. He is also coming off a very team-friendly deal considering his talent and what other players of his caliber are paid, so he may want to be paid the amount of money he deserves. 

Given that Pastrnak is only 26 years old, should get the maximum of eight years and definitely $9 million per year. I don’t think he will get an average annual value higher than $11 million because he is not on the level of players such as Nate MacKinnon ($12.6 AAV) and Connor McDavid ($12.5 AAV). The Bruins will also need to be able to pay Jeremy Swayman when his entry-level contract expires at the end of this season, as well as to meet the demands of superstar players so they can remain competitive in the Eastern Conference. 

Some may be opposed to keeping Pastrnak in the black and gold because of his recent post-season failures, including a devastating Game 7 loss on home ice to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. Others may also say that Boston should trade him for prospects and draft picks for the future so the organization can begin a rebuilding process.  

Whether or not Sweeney decides to begin the rebuilding process, keeping Pastrnak in the fold should be the top priority for Boston. He is a generational talent and will be the centerpiece of its new core with McAvoy, Lindholm, Hall and Swayman. My prediction is that Pastrnak re-signs for eight years with an average annual value of $9.6 million. “Pasta” should be a member of the Bruins for as long as he plays in the NHL. 

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