Entering the 2022 offseason, the to-do list for Boston Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney is pretty long. He has already hired a new coach in Jim Montgomery, but he still has to figure out what the roster for the 2022-23 season will look like. He does, however, have one important topic to try and get done and that’s an extension for his top, young, superstar forward.
David Pastrnak enters the upcoming season on the final year of his current contract, carrying a $6.67 million average annual value (AAV). It’s an extremely team-friendly deal that the 26-year-old is playing on, but that ss about to change. The question is, will he sign a new deal in Boston or will Sweeney be forced to move him in a trade to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.
Pastrnak’s Early Career Success
There is no question that Pastrnak is one of the top scorers in the NHL. He scored a career-high 48 goals in the 70-game shortened 2019-20 season, which allowed him to share the Maurice Rocket Richard Award with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. In the three previous seasons, he scored 34, 35, and 38 goals before breaking 40 in the 2019-20 campaign.
In 48 games in the 56-game shortened 2020-21 season, he had 20 goals, but last season, he reached the 40-goal plateau in 72 games with 37 assists. He has spent a majority of his time with the Black and Gold between Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron forming the “Perfection Line”, but last season, former coach Bruce Cassidy dropped him down to the second line with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula after Jan. 1. He thrived playing next to Hall on his left, giving the Bruins a second scoring line behind their new top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. His production shows that he does not need the play-making talent of Bergeron to be a successful consistent goal-scorer at hockey’s highest level.
In 510 career regular-season games for Boston, the 25th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 Entry Draft by former GM Peter Chiarelli has 240 goals and 264 assists, with 83 goals coming on the Bruins’ top power play unit. His power play numbers took off with former teammate Torey Krug quarterbacking the power play where he had 62 of his man-advantage goals.
To compare where Pastrnak stands with the other top goal scorers in the NHL, over the last six seasons he has 215 goals, trailing only Auston Matthews (259) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ovechkin (255), Leon Draisaitl (233), and Connor McDavid (223), both of the Edmonton Oilers (from ‘Pastrnak appears to be next to cash in,’ Boston Globe, 7/17/22). The average AAV for each of those will be $10.5 million in 2022-23.
Comparable Contracts for Pastrnak
Two high-profile forwards recently hit it big in free agency and here are their numbers compared to Pastrnak’s.
Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus Blue Jackets
It was reported that $10 million a year was dropped in front of Gaudreau by the Calgary Flames before he took less to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This could be the scenario that Sweeney could be facing next summer if he’s not able to reach a deal with Pastrnak and he keeps him through the season if the Bruins are in contention.
To compare Gaudreau and Pastrnak, Gaudreau has 210 career goals in 52 more career NHL games in one more year of NHL service than Pastrnak. The former Boston College standout signed for seven-year with the Blue Jackets with a $9.75 million yearly cap hit. He has a base salary of $7.75 million with a $2 million signing bonus add-on for each season.
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
Earlier this month, Forsberg signed an eight-year, $68 million contract to remain with the Nashville Predators with an AAV of $8.5 million. Comparing Pastrnak to Forsberg is a win for Pastrnak. In 56 more career games than Pastrnak, Forsberg has 20 fewer goals over his 10-year career.
Pastrnak averages .998 points per game and .471 goals per game, while Forsberg averages .829 points a game and .389 goals per game in Nashville. If Forsberg is getting $8.5 million per season averaging less a game than Pastrnak does and the Bruins’ right wing is a year younger, then if I’m Pastrnak or agent JP Barry, then I’m not even engaging in conversations that start at or less than Forsberg’s number
Pastrnak Will Get Earned Payday, But Where?
Comparing Pastrnak to some of the top goal scorers in the league, he is right up there with the best of them. His talent and ability to score come around only so often. Sweeney knows what he does and what he can continue to do as he enters the prime of his career and he wants to make him a lifetime Bruin with a new deal.
“We haven’t exchanged numbers, we’re just talking and being aggressive and saying we’d like David to be a lifelong Bruin,” said Sweeney. “Strongly indicated to him we’d like him to be a lifelong Bruin.”
If there’s one thing that Sweeney has been at as GM of the Bruins is signing young players to contracts to lock them up for the foreseeable future in Boston. Last season, he signed defenseman Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million extension with an AAV of $9.5 million, the most significant contract given to a Bruin. After acquiring Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks in March at the trade deadline, he was locked up for the next eight years in Boston as McAvoy’s partner with a $52 million deal with an AAV of $6.5 million.
Now it’s Pastrnak’s turn. Sweeney has said that he has yet to exchange numbers with Pastrnak and Barry, but it should start anything lower than $9.5 million. In fact, Pastrnak deserves a better contract than Forsberg and Gaudreau because he produces at just as a high level as they do. In the end, Pastrnak’s AAV should be between $10-11 million. If Sweeney is true to his word and wants to make Pastrnak a “Lifelong Bruin”, he needs to be aggressive and have him carrying the biggest AAV on the Black and Gold roster for the next eight years. Don’t be surprised to see $88 million for eight years for No. 88.