Anderson: Bruins can and should pay David Pastrnak what he wants

Ty Anderson
August 17, 2017 - 5:08 pm

Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

It seems only fitting that Peter Chiarelli, fired by the Bruins in 2015 and now the head honcho in Edmonton, could find a way to impact his former with his latest signing.

With the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and Boston’s David Pastrnak sitting as perhaps the last two high-impact restricted free agents of the 2017 class when Aug. 16 began, Chiarelli finally locked Draisaitl up on an eight-year, $68 million contract (an $8.5 million cap-hit).

That gave the Oilers their long-term, one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Draisaitl in the picture for the next eight seasons, and gave the 21-year-old Pastrnak all the leverage in the world in his negotiations 2,600 miles away. (As if he needed more.) But rather than get into the leverage game of a negotiation that honestly doesn’t need it -- both the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp seem to be on the same page with everything except the money he’ll be paid on this next deal, whenever it does come -- let’s just say it…

The Bruins should basically pay Pastrnak whatever he wants on this next contract.

But before delving into why this negotiation should be that simple for the Bruins, let’s play a game. You have two players from the 2014 NHL Draft class. Player A has scored 59 goals and 123 points in 172 NHL games played while Player B has totaled 50 goals and 137 points in 191 NHL contests. Break it down on a production basis, and Player A’s NHL career averages are 0.34 goals and 0.72 points per game, and Player B has averaged 0.26 goals and 0.72 points per game to date. Player B has averaged practically two full minutes more of ice time per night over Player A, too, including a 50-second advantage on his nightly power-play time on ice per contest over that span.

Oh, by the way, Player A is Pastrnak and Player B is the $8.5 million Draisaitl.

Is Pastrnak an $8.5 million per year player? Probably not, especially when you look at Draisaitl’s long-term fit as a center versus Pastrnak’s impact as a winger. But if Draisaitl is worth that contract (which he is), the numbers alone point towards the Bruins’ Pastrnak being worth a whole lot more than the $6 million per year long rumored to be the B’s offer to Pastrnak (and reported once again by the Boston Herald on Thursday).

A greater comparable for a handsomely paid Pastrnak has always been St. Louis sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year deal worth $60 million ($7.5 million per season) with the Blues in 2015. Tarasenko signed that deal after his first 30-goal and 70-point season, too, which is exactly the season that the dynamic Pastrnak is coming off, with a career-best 34 goals, 36 assists, and 70 points for the Bruins last year.

If this is his ask, this shouldn’t be a debate and Pastrnak should be signed today, as the Bruins can without question afford to add a deal of this magnitude to their books. It’s not just because this would be simple market value for the Czech-born Pastrnak. It's not just because he's truly worth it -- it's hard to remember when the Bruins had a true goal-scoring talent of Pastrnak's caliber -- and has consistently gotten better in Boston. It's also because of the B’s past signings that the B’s could and should do that deal.

Keep in mind that the Oilers are now paying $21 million for their one-two punch of Draisaitl and McDavid. Dealing in terms of ‘Big Three’ forward groups, it’s up to $27 million if you include care to include their big free agent get last season, Milan Lucic. The Blackhawks pay $21 million for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and $27 million with Brandon Saad now in the mix. The Penguins pay $18.2 million for the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combination, or $25 million if you include Phil Kessel. The Capitals pay over $16 million for Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin, and that number jumps to over $24 million with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s new deal in the picture.

The Bruins, meanwhile, pay just a combined $13 million to their three-zone dominant top-line pairing of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. That means that paying Pastrnak at least $7 million per season -- and into the best years of his career, too -- would be the Bruins spending just over $20 million per year for three great stars, two of which are either in or entering the prime of their careers, and the other not too far removed from it, with Bergeron at just 32 years old and in relatively good health.

And paying Pastrnak north of $7 million would not come with the long-term cap-slashing that those aforementioned teams have gone through or will eventually go through, either, as the Bruins are -- believe it or not -- short on haunting long-term commitments.

Although David Krejci remains under contract at $7.25 million per season, and although the Bruins have over $12.5 million devoted to potentially diminishing returns in David Backes, Matt Beleskey, and two buyouts, the Bruins still have over $10 million in available cap space this summer. It’s also worth saying that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has always expected the Bruins to begin the 2017 season with less than $3 million in space, so paying Pastrnak $7 million or more would meet that projection.

It would not force the Bruins to change their current direction, either, without a sizable contract extension having to come before 2019 when both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy are up for next contracts. When that comes, and barring a major addition or signing in between then, the Bruins will have nearly $30 million in available cap space (under $23 million if Pastrnak is re-signed to the aforementioned projections).

Of course, plans could change and Sweeney could add somebody to the current core if the Bruins show themselves as closer to a Cup than this slow build they’ve committed to would indicate, and if that happens things will certainly get tight, but such a long-term payday would hit the mark for both Pastrnak and the Bruins’ chances along the way.

And that come backs to the undeniably huge money the Bruins have saved on contracts to Bergeron and Marchand, the Bergeron contract inked by Chiarelli in 2013 and the Marchand deal standing as the best magic move of Sweeney’s managerial career to date, that helped create this kind of financial flexibility in the first place.

The Bruins are, however, hitting the mark with the years they’re discussing as a preference with Pastrnak, which was confirmed to WEEI by Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs yesterday, as he noted that the Black and Gold are thinking ‘six years or more’ on Pastrnak’s new deal. This also backs up what Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, has said.

“David prefers to sign a longer term deal with the Bruins,” Barry said in an exchange with the Boston Globe earlier this week. “The negotiations between myself and Don have been very open and both sides understand each other’s positions. Hopefully we can agree on an overall structure that is amenable to both sides in the next month.”

So, with the timeframe and locations squared away on both sides, pay the man.

It’s what Chiarelli, who has built cores in both Boston and now Edmonton, would do.

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