( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Thursday night on TSN’s Hockey Insider Trading program, Darren Dreger discussed the ongoing contract negotiations between the Boston Bruins and superstar forward David Pastrnak. The longtime Bruin is currently in his final year of a six-year deal worth an AAV of $6.6 million per season and a total of $40 million earned at the end of this season.

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Dreger said, “Look, we’re talking about a superstar player in Pastrnak with the Boston Bruins, and it’s a process, and we use that word a lot when talking about extensions or negotiations, period, but both sides are assessing the market right now, and contract discussions have heated up since training camp has opened.”

Dreger also mentions, “The contract talks were relatively quiet over the course of the summer, which is not unusual with preliminary discussions at the 2022 National Hockey League Draft.” He adds, “Pastrnak understands, and he’s clearly hopeful that something will get done sooner than later, but the Bruins continue to do their due diligence.”

Last week on the 32 Thoughts the Hockey Podcast, with hosts Jeff Marek Elliotte Friedman, the longtime NHL insider Friedman mentioned that Pastrnak and Agent J.P. Barry are not afraid of continued talks into the 2022-23 NHL season. Words like that are not the exact thing to say about a Boston player and its fire-from-the-hip reactionary fanbase. While the concern of player negotiations into the season and this season’s trade deadline on March 3rd, 2023, is a valid notion, Pastrnak doesn’t seem like he’s frustrated at all with the process. The 26-year-old Czech Republic native has mentioned several times in interviews from the Warrior Ice Arena training facility that he’s pleased here in Boston and generally wants to keep working with this team.

There’s no question a player like Pastrnak deserves a salary increase, and it’s been heavily rumored that number could land at or around $9.5 million, making him and Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy tied for the highest-paid players on the team. Pastrnak could easily ask for north of $10 million per season, so it’s going to be interesting how B’s General Manager Don Sweeney will see if the 2020 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy recipient and multi-year NHL All-Star will take a team-friendly deal.

With the NHL-mandated salary cap going up $1 million for the next two seasons and rumored to jump as high as $8-$9 million in the third year, I don’t believe GM Don Sweeney can talk any player into taking less anymore. Teams like the Boston Bruins have successfully put together competitive since the start of the league’s cap system. With debts to the league being paid back at an accelerated rate prompting a massive bump in the next three years, team-friendly deals might be a ploy of the past.

So, as much as I’d like to see Sweeney and Pastrnak agree to an eight-year, $8 million per season deal in these times, that might be seriously unrealistic. It depends on how Pastrnak and Agent J.P. Barry see the market and comparables league-wide. As a fan, I’m completely comfortable going into the 2022-23 regular season with Pastrnak not having a contract because just his body language and excitement to be back in Boston working with fellow teammates gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling he’s going to be a Bruin for the foreseeable future.