( Above Photo Credit: FanRag Sports )
By: Bob Mand Follow Me on Twitter @HockeyMand
Don Sweeny, the man who is the pulse of the negotiations between David Pastrnak and the Boston Bruins described talks as “status quo” between the young winger and the oldest American hockey franchise.
This is not ok. Alarm bells are starting to go off among the rumor-mongers. The Offer Sheet Brigade is ready to take to the streets.
Earlier this offseason – actually not too long ago, the conventional wisdom and Bruins’ reported offers had hovered around 6 million dollars per year eating well into Pastrnak’s UFA seasons.
But this borders madness. Perhaps it’s a calculatingly lowball offer to start the bidding process – but as anything else (and really, even that) it’s an insulting attempt to deliberately lower expectations for the negotiation process. Clearly, Pasta and his agent, J.P. Barry, weren’t buying what Boston was selling because nearly a month later and we’ve not heard any narrowing of the gap between the sides.
Indeed, just last night, an uncorroborated report from one website pegged the Pastrnak camp’s reply at 8 years and a staggering 88 million… which would make him the highest-paid player in the NHL (by AAV) until Connor McDavid’s contract takes effect next offseason. Take that notice with a grain of salt, however: That offer exceeds the Bruins’ cap space. So is it realistic? No. Is it even likely to have been uttered: Probably not.
However, the eight-year term is something that has been bandied about, per a direct quote from Mr. Barry in Steve Conroy’s Boston Herald article less than a week ago: “(The Bruins) are aware that the offers to date aren’t where we feel David fits in this marketplace. We plan to discuss an eight-year maximum term to see if we can find more common ground.” This was further supported by recent news out of Boston, where, according to WEEI’s Ty Anderson “…the sides have shifted their focus towards an eight-year contract, the maximum length allowed by the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Pastrnak’s camp knows he won’t get max/max. Heck, McDavid took less than max/max when he signed his 8 year, $12.5 million average annual value extension this summer. Barry is probably pointing towards the huge deal (8 years, $68 million) that Leon Draisaitl signed with the Edmonton Oilers this summer as the hill he’d like to aim for (and perhaps die on).
So, perhaps one would assume Boston has come up slightly from the $6 million per year they appear to have opened with. When you couple that increase with the intrinsic rise that comes with adding another UFA season to the deal, the Bruins might just be stalled out around $6.75 to $7 million per season… and with Pastrnak and Co., standing pat somewhere near $8.5 million
Legitimately, the Bruins and their star winger could be 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars apart. And that’s just ridiculous at this point in a summer that has been largely bereft of major (visible) activity in the Bruins’ front office outside Mr. Spooner’s re-signing.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) September 7, 2017
While common sense might decree, “Hey, you guys are close enough, why don’t you just split the difference and go somewhere between $7.5 and $7.625 annually?” common sense is one of the first things you forget when negotiations drag out this long. Additionally, one or both sides probably believe they have to ‘give’ less because their argument is the ‘correct’ one. Historically, second contracts don’t do quite as well as Draisaitl’s in all but extreme cases (think Sidney Crosby-level talents). But recency bias is everything and if Pastrnak and Barry think they can strike while the iron is hot based on the itchy trigger finger of one Edmonton GM, Peter Chiarelli, then so be it.
Let me say this: Both sides need each other. The Bruins without Pastrnak possess a black hole occupying the space on the right wing (all apologies to David Backes or Ryan Spooner – whoever pulls the ‘short straw’ and winds up on the wing). Similarly, Pastrnak won’t find a better center-wing combo to work with on the trade/offer sheet market… yes, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are just. that. good. The Bruins’ also represent the team most likely to put together the best offer for him, given the pressure – both internal and external – on them to do so.
It behooves both parties to come together… and it profits the Bruins’ to say: “You know what Pasta, you and your camp are right. We’ll offer close to $8 million a year for the next eight seasons – because, at least in the current market, you’re worth it.” And they’ll smile and shake hands and – as always – refuse to release the details (until they’re immediately leaked ten minutes later). Both sides will wind up happier for the conclusion.
The front office’s happiness doesn’t mean much to the rest of us – but a happy Pastrnak might just evolve into a productive Pastrnak come October.