David Pastrnak

Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Bob Mand             Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyMand

David Pastrnak signed a 6 year, 40 million dollar extension with the Boston Bruins Thursday morning ending months of speculation regarding the relationship between the team and the player. The deal includes no trade clause and will have the winger in Black and Gold at least through the summer of 2023.

Finally <exhales>.

Many in the Boston area and the sports world in general were concerned that the relationship had degraded significantly following ceaseless conjecture about the negotiation’s sticking-points. Some had opined that the Bruins’ forward was asking for double-digit rewards and some that the Bruins wouldn’t budge above their current leaders’ (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci) salaries… both assumptions were proven wrong Thursday morning, though the scales certainly appear tilted in the team’s favor.

The signing marked what some consider a complete coup by the Bruins’ management group, especially given the contracts recently handed out to Alexander Wennberg and Leon Draisaitl. Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney said, “Draisaitl is a comparable, certainly, as were other players.”

“There’s a lot of variables that go into it, a lot of work…” said Sweeney. That work played out in a four-month melodrama with hints of fleeing overseas, bombshells dropped by GMs in other cities, and rumors of ridiculous demands by both parties.

There’s a lot of good and a teaspoon of ‘bad’ in the Bruins’ now ironed-out arrangement with Pasta. The deal is almost a full two million dollars per season less than Edmonton’s contract with Draisaitl. Pasta is better and younger than many of his in-range comparables… and if exceeded, only exceeded by a very limited amount.

The main drawback of this deal is the length. I – and many others – were hoping for a longer, perhaps the eight-year max deal, to buy out an extra two years of unrestricted free agent eligibility from Pastrnak. If he plays like one might expect him to – with a perennial 30-45-75 slash, minimum – he will be due for a monster (repeat monster) deal after the 2022-23 campaign. Six years is a long way off, true, but Pastrnak will (unlike many players coming off a long-term second contract) still be deep in his prime at age 27. Financially it might have been better to bite the bullet on an extra half-million to million annually to preserve their rights until his age-28 year.

Conversely, by retaining Pastrnak for only $6.67 million AAV, the Bruins opened a window to add another veteran to help the Bergeron and Co. core win now. According to Capfriendly, with a 22 man roster (meaning two players riding the elevator to the press box each night), the Boston Bruins are $2.6 million under the cap.

If the Bruins were to trade for, let’s say, a winger with a cap hit just shy of six million, they could manage it even now if they sent back a little salary in addition to perhaps getting some cap retention from the other side. Their cap space balloons to over twelve million dollars come the deadline, giving them the flexibility to add more than one skater, should the need arise. Now, and for the next half-dozen years, Boston will be the beneficiary of some savvy leverage-work by Sweeney.

“We feel like David is a big part of what [they’re doing] going forward,” said GM Don Sweeney at his press conference this morning. About that, there is no question now. No question at all.