Boston Bruins and David Pastrnak’s contract dispute and David Backes’ thoughts on it

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 21: David Pastrnak
OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 21: David Pastrnak /

As the start of the Boston Bruins training camp is right around the corner, a key piece of the team is missing, and someone on the team has an idea on how to fix that.

The Boston Bruins brought David Backes into the organization to provide three things:  (1) physical play on the ice; (2) veteran leadership in the locker room; and…(3) ideas on how to solve front office/player issues?

It appears that the David Pastrnak contract battle has reached a tipping point.  Understandably, fans are growing concerned that this situation could go the same way the organization handled other stars in the past like Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, and Dougie Hamilton.

Rather than lock down these stars, the Bruins front office shipped them out of town when things got tough.  Thornton is a future Hall-of-Famer, Kessel could get there if he keeps producing the way he does, and the same for Seguin.  I know it’s too early to determine whether Pastrnak has Hall-of-Fame talent, it cannot be denied that he is a natural sniper, and those types of players don’t come around every day.

So what’s going on?

Fellow Bruins’ forward, David Backes, indicated recently that he has been keeping tabs on the situation (as has Patrice Bergeron).  Overall, Backes appears to think that there is hope that the two sides will reach an agreement and that Pastrnak will be a Bruins for the long term.  If no progress is made soon, Backes has an idea for how the matter can be resolved:

"“Whatever that number is, we should lock ‘em all together in a room with no food until they figure it out. That’s my plan. But I’ve had guys that have been holding out in training camp before and typically there’s enough stress and then cooler heads prevail not too long after that. That’s what I hope happens and he’s with us the whole season. If not, then the sooner the better. I don’t have a crystal ball to see what happens, but I think he’ll be a Bruin for a long time and he won’t be worrying about paying for his meals. He loves playing the game, he’s good at it and they want him here, so it’ll probably get done in my opinion.”"

The Pastrnak trade negotiations are the worst kept secret in the NHL right now.  The Bruins reportedly have offered 6 or 7 years at $6 million per year.  Pastrnak’s camp, apparently using Leon Draisaitl’s contract (8 years, $68 million, $8.5 million per year), is balking at the team’s current offer.  While their numbers on the ice are comparable, some (this author included) consider Draisaitl’s deal to be a bit of an outlier.  Plus, Draisaitl plays the center position, which usually tends to get you a bit of a premium bump in pay at the NHL level.

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After reviewing Pastrnak’s numbers, I think a much more appropriate “comp” would be Vladimir Tarasenko’s deal signed in 2015:  8 years, $60 million, $7.5 million per season.  The players are very similar in their on-ice product (both play wing, great goal scorers).  Tarasenko was coming off a breakout season, similar to Pastrnak’s 2016-2017 in numbers alone (Tarasenko – 37 goals, 36 assists; Pastrnak – 34 goals, 36 assists).  So realistically, if the Bruins bring their offer up into the $7 million to $7.5 million range, I think that is fair value for Pastrnak’s services.

The question becomes, however, are the Bruins willing to meet the Pastrnak camp halfway, and vice versa?  According to, the Bruins have over $10 million of cap space to work with going into the season.  Plus, as adeptly analyzed in depth by another Bruins blog, a holdout into the season could cause salary cap ramifications depending on the deal reached.  The longer this drags on, the greater chance there is for loss of goodwill between player and team.

Next: 2017-18 Boston Bruins division outlook

I think I speak for all Bruins fans, that given the organization’s history when it comes to player management, we’re all waiting on the edge of our seats for confirmation that a deal has been reached.