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Friday, 18 August 2017 14:42

Can the Boston Bruins Afford David Pastrnak?

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David Pastrnak's contract situation just got a bit more complicated. David Pastrnak's contract situation just got a bit more complicated.

Should the Boston Bruins allow that famous Brinks truck to back up for David Pastrnak?

The Edmonton Oilers, and good friend Peter Chiarelli, dropped the hammer on the Boston Bruins by signing one of the last remaining restricted free agents to a huge contract.

The Oilers inked Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year, $68 million contract on Wednesday, which leaves Boston’s David Pastrnak as the last remaining major RFA as camps get closer and closer to opening up.  The two young stars have been compared all offseason, and many believed both teams were just playing a waiting game to see who would sign first.

But the massive contract the Oilers gave Draisaitl made things more complicated for the Bruins, as their young gun can point to his Canadian counterpart for what his contract should look like.

As a fan, you may say “well just get it done we need this kid on our team!”  And while I wholeheartedly agree with that statement (we discussed this on our latest Bruins roundtable last week), there’s still a huge issue that needs to be considered before breaking the bank on David Pastrnak.

Is giving Pastrnak $8 million a year really a good idea, and will it hamper the Bruins going forward?

The second part of that question is where things get really complicated.

According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins currently sit $10.151 million under the salary cap, and they have 20 players signed and on their roster (11 forwards, seven defensemen, two goalies).  The B’s could afford to ink Pastrnak to a similar deal as the one that the Oilers just gave Draisaitl, but it would leave them with little wiggle room, especially since they can still add two more players to their active roster.

While there seems to be enough room to offer Pastrnak a contract hovering around the $8 million range, the bigger issue will be in the coming seasons. 

Let’s say that Pastrnak signs a multi-year deal for $8 million per season.  That would put Boston at around $73,000,000 for 21 players this season, which would leave them about $2 million to play around with prior to and during the season.  That will obviously limit the type of players that they could target near the Trade Deadline, but with the young talent that could be waiting in the wings, there’s a strong likelihood that the team would add from within instead of from the outside if the need arises.

The problem with pulling an Isaiah Thomas move and “backing up the Brinks truck” for Pasta becomes pretty clear starting next offseason.  The Bruins would have seven players making more than $5 million per year on their roster (David Krejci - $7.25 million, Tuukka Rask - $7 million, Patrice Bergeron - $6.875 million, Brad Marchand - $6.125 million, David Backes - $6 million, Torey Krug - $5.25 million, and presumably Pastrnak’s deal). 

Pasta’s $8 million deal would put Boston at just shy of $61 million of contracts for just 14 players.  If the NHL salary cap did not increase, the B’s would have around $14 million to spend on their remaining 6-8 roster spots.  Again, there is so much young talent on this team, so several of those spots will likely be claimed by players on their entry level contracts, but that would put a lot of pressure on both player development and on Sweeney to find the low-priced gems both in house and on the market.  It would also leave Boston little to no chance of signing any of their restricted and unrestricted free agents, like Zdeno Chara, Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Austin Czarnik, and Sean Kuraly.

The 2019-20 season would look even worse (assuming none of the team’s high-priced players were dealt away), as the B’s could have $54 million tied up in just nine contracts.

If you need an example of just how difficult it is to have a large majority of your money tied up in such few players, you can look no further than the Chicago Blackhawks.  We’ve already seen them start trading off pieces to counteract their huge salary cap problems.  It may have seem advantageous to lock up two of the best players in the league to huge contracts at that time, but the Hawks will enter next offseason with a ton of free agents and less than $10 million to spend on eight or nine players.

The Oilers, on the other hand, still have over $8 million of cap space after the Draisaitl signing.  With Connor McDavid’s extension starting next season, they have almost $61 million tied up next season to just 13 players, but we all know that their GM has never had a problem with overpaying players and running up to and over the salary cap.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Chiarelli bumped up his final offer to Draisaitl just to stick it to his former team, because it was widely believed that the two young stars would sign for around the same amount.  Pastrnak and his representatives can now point to the Draisaitl contract as the reasonable contract that they are looking for, which is clearly more than the six-year, $36 million offer that was recently reported to be on the table.

The Bruins can try to get a “hometown discount”, or point to the fact that Draisaitl has had two stellar seasons prior to his payday compared to just one for Pasta, but the biggest question is whether or not Don Sweeney, Cam Neely, and the entire Bruins organization believes that giving $8 million a year to their own young star is worth it both now and in the near future.

Adam Belue

My name is Adam Belue, I'm from Fall River, MA, and I'm a sports fanatic.  I'll watch and write about just about any and every sport, even the fringe ones that aren't really sports like bowling, poker, and ultimate frisbee.  I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and a self-proclaimed New England Patriots hater (and proud of it!)... which makes my job in a sporting goods store quite interesting.  I'm a big fan of the other local teams (Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics), along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and college football as a whole.  I may be a bit obsessed (or a lot obsessed) with Taylor Swift, and I've seen her in concert four times so far... some of the best times I've had by the way her concerts are quite the experience!  I'm also a huge tennis fan, and have played the sport for a good majority of my life.  I wish more people watched and appreciated tennis.  I'm currently a part of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox Beat Team on CLNS Radio, and post a weekly fantasy football and college football column during the season.