The Boston Bruins may be in the midst of a mediocre season but one bright spot, both today and for the future, has been the breakout performance of 20-year-old winger David Pastrnak. The Czech born forward has 18 goals in just 23 games to start the 2016-17 campaign, a figure which has already eclipsed his career-high by three. Pastrnak is playing out the final season of his ELC and presuming he’s able to continue to pile up the points, it’s certain he will cash in big this summer on a new contract, as Joe Haggerty of CSNNE writes.
Granted, it’s unlikely Pastrnak, who is also averaging better than a point-per-game, will be able to maintain his scoring pace throughout the season but his prolific start makes it easy to envision a 30-goal, 60-point campaign is a strong possibility. Haggerty speculates that if Pastrnak reaches those plateaus, he would be in line for a deal comparable to those awarded to Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Nathan MacKinnon, among others in recent seasons. That means the value of a multiyear arrangement could reach $6MM or more annually on a long-term deal, depending on how many free agent years Boston is able to secure.
While the Bruins would certainly be more than happy to lock up the services of a talented youngster like Pastrnak through his prime seasons at that price, there is what Haggerty considers a “nightmare scenario,” that could come into play. If Pastrnak continues filling the net consistently and posts a platform season similar to that which Vladimir Tarasenko posted in 2014-15 – 37 goals and 73 points – his price tag could go well beyond the $6MM – $6.5MM mark. Tarasenko inked an eight-year, $60MM pact with the Blues on the heels of his breakout campaign two years ago and that could represent a target for Pastrnak if his able to attain that level of offensive production. With the salary cap likely to remain at or near the $73MM mark, and after locking up winger Brad Marchand to a lucrative new deal earlier this year, the Bruins will have to hope they can get Pastrnak extended at a rate which better fits their long-term salary cap situation.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division:
- The Buffalo Sabres, led by sophomore Jack Eichel and buoyed by an owner willing to spend to improve his club, would certainly have to be considered a team on the rise in the Atlantic Division. While a postseason berth in 2016-17 might be a long shot at this point, the Sabres should begin to contend for the playoffs as soon as next season. However, as John Vogl of The Buffalo News notes, the situation today could be much different had the club done a better job of drafting in the early-to-mid-2000’s. Former first and second-round choices taken while Darcy Regier was the team’s GM listed by Vogl include: Marek Zagrapan, Philipp Gogulla, Dennis Persson and Drew Schiestel were all high draft picks chosen between 2005 and 2007 and none even played a single NHL game. Conversely, players the Sabres could have selected – Alec Martinez, James Neal and T.J. Oshie – have played key roles for contending teams. While it may be fun to play “what if,” with players the Sabres could have had, it’s also important to note that had the team experienced more success as a result of better drafting under Regier, Buffalo would likely not have franchise building blocks Rasmus Ristolainen, Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Alexander Nylander in the organization today.
- The return of Bobby Ryan and the play of several of Ottawa’s younger forwards has allowed first-year GM Pierre Dorion to resist temptation and stay the course with the team’s current roster, writes Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun. It would have been understandable if Dorion had looked to make a deal to add some extra offense with Ryan out with a hand injury but the veteran scoring winger missed only three games. Dorion admitted he made some calls in the aftermath of the Ryan injury and while he will continue to look at different avenues to improve his club, there is no immediate pressure to make a trade.