The Boston Bruins showed this season that they aren’t afraid to sign players to extensions early. They smartly locked up star defenseman Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million contract in October. They had plenty of time to do this, as his current deal doesn’t end until this season is completed. However, they made the right call.
When it comes to this offseason, we could see the Bruins do the same thing with other players. There is a decent chunk of players with expiring contracts after next season, so it may beneficial to sign some of them early. Before beginning, it’s important to note that players with expiring contracts after this season will not be discussed. The primary objective of the offseason, however, will be to re-sign captain Patrice Bergeron.
David Pastrnak is the biggest player from the Bruins with an expiring contract after the 2022-23 campaign. If the Bruins want to keep him around, they will surely have to pay him more than his current $6.66 million cap hit. He’s grown into a legitimate first-line forward and if he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent, he would have a plethora of suitors willing to pay him a fortune. To avoid that possibility from occurring, the Bruins should begin extension talks with him once they are permitted to this summer.
Pastrnak is off to a slow start for his standards this season, though. In 30 games, he has nine goals and 22 points. Keep in mind, he’s been at least a point-per-game player for the last three seasons. Most notably, he also scored 48 goals and had 95 points in just 70 games during the 2019-20 season, too. When he’s on his game, he’s one of the top right-wingers in the sport, so the Bruins need to extend him as soon as possible.
Jeremy Swayman was fantastic right out of the gate for the Bruins last season. In 10 games, he had a 7-3-0 record, 1.50 goals-against average (GAA), and a .945 save percentage. With this, many fans now envision him to be the team’s goaltender of the future. Now, in his second season with the team, he may not be as dominant but he’s still playing well. In 16 appearances, he sports an 8-6-2 record, 2.26 GAA, and .918 save percentage.
With Tuukka Rask on the verge of officially returning for the Bruins, there’s a good chance that Swayman will be heading back to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL). This is because sending him down will not require him to go on waivers. However, he is playing like a legitimate NHL goalie and honestly deserves to stay. With how he’s playing thus far, it’s fair to say that the 23-year-old still appears to have a very bright future in this league. Thus, it feels possible that the Bruins could explore the possibility of signing him to an extension early this summer
It feels like Craig Smith signed his three-year, $9.3 million contract with the Bruins only yesterday. However, after this season is completed, he will already have only one year left on his deal. So far, it’s fair to say that he’s been living up to it. The 32-year-old has become a big part of Boston’s top six and has provided solid scoring in the process. This was especially the case last season, as he scored 13 goals and had 19 assists in 54 games.
Yet, Smith has cooled off a little bit this season. In 23 games so far, he has three goals, six assists, and a minus-4 rating. However, he also dealt with a nagging injury during the beginning portion of the season and has shown signs of his former self since recovering. All nine of his points this season have come over his last 15 games, and that’s more in line with the pace of production he had last campaign. Perhaps the veteran will heat up from here. Given his solid overall play and importance to the team, it sure seems possible that Boston could elect to give him a short-term extension this offseason, rather than wait until after next season.
Out of the remaining players with contracts that expire after next season, Trent Frederic may have the best shot of landing an early extension. Although the Bruins’ decision to draft him in the first round is still questionable, he is cementing himself as a mainstay in the team’s bottom six. He provides the Bruins with grit that they desperately need but is also slowly starting to show signs of improvement in other areas, too.
In 22 games this season, Frederic has two goals and three assists. With this, he has matched his point totals from last season, but in 20 fewer contests. Yes, he isn’t taking the league by storm but it is promising to see this level of improvement from him. He also has an impressive 43 hits on the young campaign, so it also isn’t easy to play against him. Although it’s certainly possible that the Bruins may wait to begin talks with the 23-year-old until after next season, an extension doesn’t seem too out of the question, either.
Time will tell if the Bruins end up signing any of these players to extensions next offseason. If one were to put money down, it’s apparent that Pastrnak has the best chance out of the bunch. In fact, after the Bergeron situation is dealt with, this should be their next primary objective. However, it still wouldn’t be bad for the other three to land their extensions, too.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.