It took some time, but the Boston Bruins were able to lock up their star forward David Pastrnak with an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value (AAV) of $11.25 million on Thursday (March 2). It ends several months of speculation about what the future held for him in Boston as general manager (GM) Don Sweeney and Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, were finally able to work out the details.
The announcement comes ahead of the 2023 trade deadline when the NHL’s best team record-wise at 47-8-5 is expected to be active, which they already have. The deal is one that the Bruins did not want to pay as high as they have with the annual AAV, however, they could not risk losing him in free agency this upcoming summer and have a repeat performance like the Calgary Flames had last summer when they lost Johnny Gadreau, who left to join the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Bruins Had to Lockup Pastrnak Up Before the Summer
One of the young gifted goal scorers in the NHL, it was a must that Sweeney locked up Pastrnak long-term before letting him hit the open market in the summer of 2023, as there would have been a number of teams lined up to offer him top dollars. Pastrnak has been the Black and Gold’s biggest goal-scoring threat for the last six seasons and leads the team in 2022-23 with 42 goals and 38 assists in 60 games. He has 14 power play goals and 15 power assists as a key member of the top unit. In 570 career regular-season games, he has 282 goals and 302 assists. In the playoffs, he has 30 goals and 44 assists in 70 career games. He has 257 goals since the 2016-17 season, which ranks him fifth in the NHL.
Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron have formed one of the top lines in the NHL the last few seasons and Pastrnak’s goal-scoring took off. He scored a career-high 48 goals in 70 games in the shortened 2019-20 season and shared the Maurice Rockey Richard Award with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. The season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic with 12 games remaining and it was almost given that he would have cracked the 50-goal plateau that season. In the 2021-22 season, Pastrnak finished with 40 goals and 77 points and spent the second half of the season on the second line with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula, who has since been traded to the New Jersey Devils.
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First-year coach Jim Montgomery has played Pastrnak mostly on the second line this season with Pavel Zacha and David Krejci, forming one of the top second lines in the league. Krejci, who returned to the Bruins after spending last season in Czechia, has 13 goals and 34 assists, and newly-acquired Pavel Zacha has 15 goals and 26 assists this season. In January, the Bruins signed Zacha to a four-year contract extension.
Bruins Locking Up Long-Term Pieces
With Pastrnak now under contract beyond this season, it is another building block for the Bruins when the time comes that Bergeron and Krejci are no longer around. Prior to the 2021-22 season, Boston signed defensemen Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million extension. After trading for left-shot defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks last March, Sweeney also locked up the free-agent-to-be with an eight-year, $52 million extension. Marchand has two years remaining on his current eight-year, $49 million contract that carries a cap hit of $6.125 million. With Pastrnak signed long-term, the next big contract that Sweeney will be facing is goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who enters the final year of his entry-level contract and is thought of as the Bruins goalie of the future.
Now the attention for Sweeney and the front office turns back toward the March 3 trade deadline at 3 o’clock. Part of waiting so long before signing Pastrnak most likely was his wanting to see what the future looks like and can the Bruins be competitive. Sweeney has already added multiple players at the deadline in Garnet Hathaway, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyler Bertuzzi, all pending unrestricted free agents (UFA). Getting this extension done will give Sweeney a very good idea of what he’ll have for cap space next season and looking to work out other deals with other pending UFAs.