Contract negotiations for superstar players are rarely easy, but the Bruins believe a long-term deal with David Pastrnak will get done.
Pastrnak believes the same.
Seems like a good start.
“Of course,” Pastrnak said Friday, when asked if he was optimistic on the matter. “The city is where I got the chance to become the player I am, the human being I am. Boston organization is an unbelievable part of it. I came here as a kid, and I’m a man, you know?
“I’m extremely happy. I’ve said many times, I love it here. It’s an honor to wear this jersey.”
Pastrnak, who arrived in Boston the night before, held court at his locker stall at Warrior Ice Arena after skating with his teammates at an informal captains’ practice. He had the look of a player — healthy, happy, and focused — who is headed for a big year.
His agent J.P. Barry realizes this, as does Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. Their discussions on an extension for No. 88 are ongoing. Pastrnak, who has one year on a deal paying him a bargain $6.667 million, prefers to let them sort it out. He is here to pound pucks, not the negotiating table.
Goal-scorers get paid the biggest bucks in the NHL. Always have. And over the last six years, no right wing has scored more than Pastrnak (215 goals). Those ahead of him on the scoring list: Auston Matthews (259), Alex Ovechkin (255), Leon Draisaitl (233), and Connor McDavid (223).
Of the contracts most recently signed, Pastrnak’s closest comparable is that of ex-Flame Johnny Gaudreau, who is two years older (28), also a winger, and has produced points at a similar clip over the last six seasons (466, to Pastrnak’s 451). He landed in Columbus this offseason for an average of $9.75 million over seven years.
This offseason saw young, less-proven scorers like Tim Stützle (21), Robert Thomas (23), Patrik Laine (24) and Jordan Kyrou (25) all sign deals for north of $8 million a year. Unless he permits Barry to offer Boston a steep hometown discount, Pastrnak’s next pact could land between that of Gaudreau and Jonathan Huberdeau ($10.5 million over eight years in Calgary).
Charlie McAvoy, entering the first year of an eight-year, $76 million extension, is the highest-paid Bruin at present ($9.5 million per).
Pastrnak said his contractual future was not on his mind this offseason. And “when you’re in Europe,” he mused, “it’s hard to follow life in America,” so he didn’t pay a lot of attention to the market, and who changed teams. He had not yet connected with his new coach, Jim Montgomery.
Pastrnak, who turned 26 in May, wanted to get his mind right after a difficult stretch.
Beyond the pandemic, he had hip surgery after the 2020-21 season and tragically, he and his partner, Rebecca Rohlsson, lost their newborn son last June.
“I haven’t had a normal summer in a couple years,” he said.
“My biggest thing was to get prepared for this season, physically wise, mentally wise. The motivation this year was through the roof compared to last couple years. I had the hip surgery, and last year was tough. Finally this summer I was able to work hard and focus on my game. That was my main focus.”
David Krejci deserves some of the credit for pulling him out of that rough stretch. Pastrnak tipped his hat to Krejci, his teammate for Czechia at the world championships in May, for helping him rediscover his fire.
“A highlight of my last season, to be honest,” said Pastrnak said, who left for the worlds after the Bruins’ first-round loss to the Hurricanes. “The joy he brought me back to play hockey again, at the world championship, is what I was kind of looking for when I went there, and it happened.
“We are obviously close friends, and I’m really happy he came back. We have another player with this experience with him, and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Marchy [Brad Marchand], and some new players, we can learn a lot from these three every day.”
Pastrnak joked that his recruiting pitch to Krejci was simple: “Couple apples [assists] at the Worlds, passing a couple empty-netters, let him win at the cards, grab a couple beers in Czech, and he’s back.”
Krejci, incidentally, was expected to arrive in Brighton on Monday, for the final captain’s practice of the summer. The Bruins will hold their first formal preseason practice on Thursday.
Pastrnak hadn’t spoken to reporters since the Bruins replaced six-year coach Bruce Cassidy with Montgomery in June.
“I was a little surprised, honestly,” Pastrnak said of the move. “Butchy and I, we were great. I liked him. He was a great coach. Obviously he had his way and we all went through it. It’s time to move on, that’s hockey, it’s a business. He had no problem finding a job, and we are here in our situation with a new coach. I can’t wait to work with him and get to know him as a person. As a coach, I hear only good things about him. Excited to get to know him and see what he brings.”
Pastrnak, who put up 40 goals and 77 points in 72 games last year, could start on a line with Krejci and Taylor Hall, two premier attackers. Considering their playmaking, and Pastrnak’s world-class finishing ability, it’s worth noting that Pastrnak’s career highs are 48 goals and 95 points, both achieved while playing with Marchand and Bergeron in 2019-20.
“It’s always a matter of just if I stay healthy,” Pastrnak said. “I know what I can do in this league if I’m 100 percent healthy. That’s just my biggest focus. Injuries are part of the game, and how I said, I had a great summer, healthy, you know. Hopefully that will stick the whole season.”
Sticking around beyond 2022-23 is not his immediate concern.
“We love it here,” he said. “This is our home. This is where I became a man. Spent unbelievable years with Rebecca and we are really happy here. My focus is moving forward to be ready for game one. We’re going to be missing some key players and I know I have to be on my game.
“Just can’t wait to get going and play some hockey.”