Rumor Rundown: Pastrnak Trade Debate, Butcher Decision

Yesterday NHL Network analyst and former Lightning GM Brian Lawton tweeted he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Pastrnak is traded based on the current status of negotiations between the player and the Boston Bruins. In tweeting this, Lawton dropped a figurative bomb on the hockey world.

People everywhere picked up on the tweet and started to get upset with the idea that the Bruins would trade another good young asset after publicly stating they’ve been sick of watching their promising talent of the future spread around the NHL like a pilot crop dusting someone else’s field.

The question is, what’s really going on?

The Argument for Lawton’s Tweet

The Bruins have the cap room to pay Pastrnak what he wants. They also have a desire to keep him in Boston. This delay only means one of two things. Either Pastrnak’s camp is asking for way too much or they’re waiting to see where a player like Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers winds up. Draisaitl’s deal may provide a higher comparable from which to negotiate.

Draisaitl and the Oilers are having similar issues and it appears the Oilers intend to take their time, wait until closer to the season and get Draisaitl on either a bridge deal or a long-term contract that isn’t in the $8.5-$10 million that has been rumored.

2018 Olympics
Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

While different in certain respects, Draisaitl and Pastrnak are, in many ways, comparable players. If the Draisaitl deal gets Pastrnak what he’s looking for, that could mean Pastrnak ends up in the $7-7.5 million per year range, and that would shoot him past teammates like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in terms of salary. Many believe this is simply too much money and far more than the $6 million the Bruins thought it would take to get a deal done.

So too, while all the pieces that were in place when past trades occurred are not there now, there’s probably a good reason for Bruins fans to feel a bit uneasy. Past talks with Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel and, of course, Tyler Seguin were all botched and those players were traded. The Bruins organization is not shy about making a move if they feel they need to.

The Argument Against Lawton’s Tweet

While Lawton is deeply rooted in the NHL and his information should not be blindly cast aside, Joe Haggerty of the suggested it’s simply not accurate to suggest Pastrnak gets traded:

The Bruins aren’t going to trade David Pastrnak. Period. They need his speed, they need his goal-scoring ability, and they need his youthful zest for the game to sell their product in Boston. There’s no other player coming through the organization who can match the dynamic right winger’s skill set, and he’s in high demand across the league because there aren’t many like him.

The Bruins would be unwise to trade Pastrnak at this stage and these rumors suggest more a bit of nervousness as training camp inches closer. The player wants to stay in Boston and the Bruins want to keep the player. Both sides are simply at a standstill and that’s not terribly uncommon.

David Pastrnak (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is a money issue plain and simple. This is not a player wants to leave or the team feeling uneasy about the type of person under employment and a cultural shift is in order. None of those issues exist here. Negotiations exclusively over money tend to eventually work themselves out. The likelihood is, it will here as well.

Will Butcher Decision

Today is the day college free agent defenseman Will Butcher can and might make a decision on his NHL future. Among the many teams who might be interested, the Detroit Red Wings have a lot to offer a young player looking mainly for playing time.

Will Butcher
Will Butcher [photo: Tom Sorensen]

The Red Wings have eight defensemen on the roster (Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul) but are looking to make changes, specifically cap related ones. The most money Butcher can be offered is a two-year entry level contract at $925,000 a season. His additional salary would have to come in the form of performance bonuses. This is an ideal type of signing for the Red Wings.

Other teams that have been linked to Butcher include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils.