In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, a Boston sports radio host fires back at a Czech source who suggested David Pastrnak is in no rush to sign a contract extension. Meanwhile, new head coach Jim Montgomery explained how he envisions his top two forward lines to work for the start of the 2022-23 season. In other news, Fabian Lysell is considered a serious candidate to crack the opening night roster this fall. Aside from his bright future, however, the Bruins were recently ranked as having the worst prospect pipeline in the league.
Pastrnak Not Interested in Talking Extension
Much has been made of Pastrnak’s contract situation as we prepare for the 2022-23 season. The 26-year-old Czech star has just one year remaining on his deal that carries a cap hit of roughly $6.6 million, and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Extension talks didn’t begin early in the offseason, leading to some trade rumors, and while those rumors have died down, new ones have surfaced that question whether he wants to remain in Boston.
According to Czech analytic gurus Andy & Rono, the Bruins wanted an extension in place by now, but Pastrnak is in no rush to do so. According to them, he would love to remain with the organization, but he also has his goals set on a Stanley Cup and isn’t sure that will be possible after this season when players like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci likely retire.
While this news surely worried some Bruins fans, Michael Felger from Felger & Mazz was not one of them. On Wednesday, the well-known radio host addressed the rumor and made it clear that he thinks Pastrnak signing or not will have nothing to do with the team’s chances at winning the Cup in the near future but will come down to how much he is offered.
“…so now David Pastrnak is going to go because he thinks this is not a place to win,” Felger said. “Lie, lie, lie. You don’t like their first number, and you don’t want to say it, which I don’t blame you, because that makes you look like a money grubber. But what you then say is, well, $9 million a year. I mean, really, you should be making 10 or whatever. Well, I don’t know if you guys have a chance to win. I don’t know. I’m going to hold up. But the real answer is it’s the contract. And this ties to Brady. Sorry. Rant over.
…It’s almost always the contract. Almost always. And it’s the contract here. If you give this guy the bag, I guarantee you if you give him $10 million a year, ten and a half million a year, he’s going to look at your roster and say, ‘Yeah, I think we have a chance to win.’ Bull crap. I don’t believe him.”
While we don’t know what Pastrnak is thinking, Felger is likely correct here. It’s hard to imagine he would turn down a long-term contract from the Bruins with an average annual value of $10 million.
Montgomery Shares His Plan for Top Lines
Speaking with WEEI Springfield recently, Montgomery gave some insight into what his top-six will look like to begin the 2022-23 season. It sounds as though he will pair Krejci with Pastrnak and likely play Taylor Hall as their left-winger. As for the top line, he seems confident in throwing Pavel Zacha on the left side until Brad Marchand’s return, alongside Patrice Bergeron and possibly Jake DeBrusk.
Related: Bruins’ Jim Montgomery Reveals Plans for Team’s Top-6
“If we’re having success, I’m not switching lines, but inevitably, over 82 games, things get stale, and people are going to rotate,” Montgomery said. “Pasta’s going to play with Bergy, and he’s going to play with Krejci. [He’ll] probably start the year with Krejci.
Taylor Hall had such a great year when Krejci was his center. Krejci is a really good dynamic centerman through the neutral zone, which allows Taylor Hall to get his feet going. It’s going to allow him to put pucks to space to allow him to score off the rush. That’s the way I see it, initially.”
Montgomery gave a few more thoughts on his potential top-six to begin the season, including praising Zacha and saying he would like to give him a chance to play with one of the best players in the world in Bergeron. Though it’s all still just talk at this point, the Bruins’ new bench boss is saying all the right things in the early going of his tenure.
Lysell Has Opportunity to Crack Bruins Lineup
Since he was selected 21st overall in the 2021 Draft, the Bruins organization has been very high on Lysell. Not only is he their best prospect, but he appears to be on the verge of NHL-ready. While he will need to have a good training camp, a roster spot may be available for the 19-year-old to begin the 2022-23 season. During that same interview with WEEI, Montgomery spoke about the Swedish winger.
“If Marchy’s here, he probably doesn’t have an opportunity, and if he’s going to play in the NHL, he needs to play in the top six and get an opportunity to play with one of our elite centers,” Montgomery explained. “If he has a great camp, he’s going to get that opportunity. That’s the great thing about the injury to Marchy is it opens up a door. He has to knock through that door. When that opportunity comes, earn your way into the NHL.”
From the sound of it, Lysell’s opportunity may come down to outperforming either Zacha or DeBrusk in training camp. Whether he can do that remains to be seen, but it is clear that the franchise has a ton of belief in him.
Bruins Prospect Pipeline Dead Last in NHL
In a recent article, Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked the Bruins’ prospect pipeline 32nd in the league. That’s a tough spot but not much of a surprise to fans who have voiced their displeasure over management’s recent draft choices, as well as their asset management in recent years (from ‘Corey Pronman: Boston Bruins rank No.32 in NHL Pipeline Rankings for 2022,’ The Athletic, 08/22/22).
“The Bruins being in last place is a combination of a lack of picks, and the few picks they’ve had – such as John Beecher – not developing all that well,” Pronman wrote. “Beecher, Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei lead this system, and they all look like they’re going to be NHL players, but there doesn’t look to be much depth or impact in this system.”
This goes to show just how important the 2022-23 season is for the Bruins. This could be their last shot at winning for some time unless Sweeney can somehow pull a rabbit out of his hat down the road.
Looking Ahead for the Bruins
While the Pastrnak situation is a concern, it doesn’t sound as though anything is close to being agreed upon right now. Things can change, but at this point, there isn’t a ton of reason to believe a deal will be finalized ahead of training camp. Aside from that, the Bruins are roughly $2.2 million over the maximum cap and will likely need to make a trade. Craig Smith appears to be the lead candidate to be moved, though Nick Foligno remains an option as well.