On Thursday, September 14, 2017, the Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that they had reached an agreement with and signed forward David Pastrnak to a six-year contract through the 2022-23 season for a yearly average of $6.67 million.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Pastrnak will be earning $4 million more than Filip Forsberg whose $36 million extension with Nashville in 2016 was used as a number during negotiations between the Bruins and Pastrnak’s agent J.P. Barry. Of course, given the amount that Leon Draisaitl got in August—an eight-year, $68 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers—it was perhaps not surprising that perhaps negotiations were taking longer than what people hoped, as Pastrnak hoped to get a big contract.
It seems the only ones worried about whether or not Pastrnak would sign with the Bruins were the fans. It was clear as Sweeney addressed the media on Thursday that he wasn’t worried.
“I always said that we were going to find a deal. It took time, right up against… there wasn’t a deadline, we didn’t look at it like that,” Sweeney shared. “We had strong, open communication. I just think the work paid off for both sides to find a good landing spot that both sides were extremely happy with the end result and to get the full complement at camp, I think everyone would acknowledge, is to the benefit of everyone’s interests.”
For those not involved in the negotiations, it appeared that nothing was happening. However, both the Bruins organization and Pastrnak and his agent were talking and continuing to look for that middle ground where all would be happy.
“There’s no timeline. It’s just a level of communication and respect for both parties and understanding where the positions are and keep working at is, as I said.” Sweeney stressed.
Pastrnak was not in Boston on Thursday and it was stated that he would be arriving sometime Friday evening. He will still need to go through physicals and testing before he is cleared to join the rest of the players on the ice and some of his teammates are hoping they can be there when he does go through those tests.
“We’ll get the kid across the sea and make him do all the testing, hopefully with all of us watching and a little hazing for the what, 20 to 30-minute hold out. So give him a hard time for that,” forward David Backes joked.
“We’re happy for him. Hope he hurries up and gets his butt here and we can rib him a little bit, but very happy for him and happy that it’s a done deal,” said defenseman Kevan Miller.
Pastrnak is respected by his teammates, especially for what he accomplished this last season, with his 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points—all a career high for him. He was second on the team in goals and tied in tenth in the league; third on the team in assists and second on the team with points.
“He’s a hell of a player. To have him in the lineup makes us a lot more potent; makes our lineup a lot deeper. We can spread out our scoring and he’s gonna garner a lot more attention coming off the year he had last year,” said Backes. “And hopefully the rest of us can pick up on some of the open space that is going to be created by him taking a lot of that attention.”
Of course, that kind of attention will mean more hits and Pastrnak will need to prepare for them and make sure he responds, while keeping things on the right side of the legal line.
“We want to see that next progression from him as well, and teams are going to play him differently and harder. He will have to accept that and get past that. All young players have to go through that.”
Perhaps the attention to some of the penalties like slashing that have been mentioned by newly appointed director of player safety, George Parros may help in keeping Pastrnak a bit safer on the ice. However, Pastrnak will definitely have to be stronger with the puck ensuring that he is not easily knocked off along the boards and in the corners.
Pastrnak will hopefully pass all his tests and be on the ice with the rest of the team soon. And then there is the little matter of sharing a bit of the wealth with his teammates—as there is a tradition of gifts after signing a big contract.
“We’ll see what he comes up with,” joked past gift giver, and assistant captain, Patrice Bergeron. “We’ll make sure he hears about it.”
While he may be getting a nice paycheck, it is clear that his teammates will keep him humble and guide him through this new learning experience. And in the meantime, the Bruins will have an asset to join the other great players and continue to plan for a strong season.