( Photo Credit: M. Anthony Nesmith / Getty Images )

By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26

The Boston Bruins are entering a crossroads in the franchise as the 2022 offseason has started with uncertainty. The offseason began with a bang as Don Sweeney, and upper management fired head coach Bruce Cassidy on Monday, June 6th. Beyond the need for the Bruins’ to find a new head coach, there is increasing concern surrounding the Bruins roster entering the 2022-23 season.

David Pastrnak, who is entering the last year of his six-year, $6.67 million contract, has become a significant concern in the Bruins world with Fluto Shinzawa’s article on a potential Pastrnak trade and rebuild on The Athletic. Pastrnak is set to enter the 2023 offseason as a UFA, and Shinzawa isn’t convinced that Boston will be able to sign Pastrnak, given Sweeney’s track record. With most Boston fans disagreeing with the Cassidy firing and the uncertain future of Pastrnak as a Bruin, the organization and its fanbase are starting to feel unease.

As soon as Shinzawa’s article on The Athletic began gaining traction across hockey media, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman joined the Jeff Marek Show and indicated that he believes Boston will do their best to sign the superstar winger. “I believe their intention is to sign (Pastrnak),” Friedman said. “And if for whatever reason they get the impression that they can’t sign him, then I think that that may change. But the initial sense I’m getting is that their goal is to sign him.”

Boston management would be, quite frankly, ignorant to let a superstar talent like Pastrnak walk for nothing. Pastrnak has made strides in his development on and off the ice while becoming one of the most likable characters in the National Hockey League. He’s one of the NHL’s most prolific goal-scorers with a Rocket Richard to his name in 2020 (48 goals) and a leader within the Bruins’ locker room. The 26-year-old Czech native is entering his eighth season in the NHL and has yet to hit his athletically prime years. 

Given his career trajectory and continual improvement as a player and leader, even if Boston decides to rebuild, Pastrnak should be a person that a team builds around rather than shipping out for draft picks and prospects. Losing Pastrnak would put the organization in a hole that would extend the time that Boston would rebuild to become a Stanley Cup contender. Friedman reported on the 32 Thoughts Podcast that Pastrnak and his agent will start extension negotiations with Boston management soon.

Friedman had the chance to talk with J.P. Barry, Pastrnak’s agent, about the recent rumors surrounding his client. “I spoke with Don and David this morning, and we don’t know where this report emanated from,” Barry stated. “We both have a solid relationship with Don, and the plan hasn’t changed one bit. We will sit down in July and begin extension negotiations.” As per the terms of the current CBA, contract talks between the two sides won’t be permitted to start until July 13th.

On the open marketing, Pastrnak would be paid upwards of nine-plus million dollars annually with a long-term deal. In the Bruins case, it seems the days of players being willing to take “hometown discounts” has come to an end considering the recent free agents they’ve recently signed, along with Charlie McAvoy’s recent contract extension ($9.5m x 8 years). Pastrnak’s last deal with Boston was undoubtedly team-friendly, but now, he will get paid what he’s worth wherever he ends up.

If contract extension talks between both parties start to head south, Boston’s hand may be forced to move Pastrnak around or during the 2023 trade deadline. A trade involving the superstar would be the demise of the competitive Boston Bruins, as they would enter mediocrity for years to come rather than rebuilding on the fly. The Bruins have enough of a core to build around to remain competitive if Pastrnak stays with Boston. Depending upon if Pastrnak stays or goes, heads may begin to turn within the Bruins organization.