BUFFALO — Talks aimed at a new deal for David Pastrnak continue, more than two months since negotiations kicked off, and GM Don Sweeney didn’t sound like anything will be finalized soon as he spoke with the media Monday morning prior to the Bruins wrapping up their Rookie Challenge tournament.
“There’s never been a timetable,” said Sweeney, noting that he has continued discussions with J.P. Barry, Pastrnak’s Toronto-based agent. “I know other people have tried to sort of put one out there, but that’s just not how it works.”
Pastrnak, meeting with reporters in Boston prior to the past weekend, said he wants to continue playing for the Bruins beyond this season and is confident a new deal will be completed.
“I’ve said it many times,” said the prolific right winger. “I love it here, and it’s an honor to wear the jersey.”
Pastrnak’s six-year, $40 million expiring deal — negotiated by Sweeney — was signed Sept. 14, 2017, just as training camp was about to start. He will be on the ice in Brighton Thursday when the Bruins’ varsity go through its paces for the first time under new coach Jim Montgomery.
“I’ll admit, you’d always like to have things buttoned up before you worry about entering a last year [of a contract],” said Sweeney. “But sometimes it’s just a little bit more of an organic process — we’ll continue to work on it. We’re happy to see Pasta back and ready to go.”
It does not appear there will be a repeat of 2017 with Pastrnak, now 26, suddenly agreeing to terms on a long-term deal before camp is called to order.
He can sign for as many eight more years, through 2030-31, with the Bruins. If he were to play out this season and enter unrestricted free agency in July, he would be restricted to signing for seven years with any club other than Boston.
“You never know,” said Sweeney about a deal possibly being signed in the next day or two. “Obviously, we are in communication regularly, but I just never put a timetable on, it terms of where the process is at. We’ll try to get to the end line.”
Pastrnak, who owns a career line of 240-264—504 in 510 games, last year connected for 40-37—77. His 215 goals the last six seasons are fifth in the league, behind Auston Matthews (259), Alex Ovechkin (255), Leon Draisaitl (233), and Connor McDavid (223) — a group that carries an average salary of $10.5 million.
Prospects find the net
Shootout goals by Georgii Merkulov and Fabian Lysell, two of the club’s top young forward prospects, led the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Devils here Monday morning, the Bruins leaving with a 2-1-0 record in the Prospects Challenge.
John Beecher and Merkulov scored in the second period, erasing New Jersey leads of 1-0 and 2-1. It appeared that Luke Toporowski won it in the final seconds of 3-on-3 overtime, with what would have been his third goal of the tourney. But the on-ice officiating crew felt the puck was not over the goal line.
Free-agent signed Brandon Bussi made 19 saves and improved his record to 2-0. The ex-Western Michigan standout, 6 feet 4 inches tall and 215 pounds, helped make a case for a roster spot in Providence with the WannaBs.
Bussi signed a one-year deal that will bring him a minimum $155,000 (bonus and salary) if he’s in the minors all season. Now 24 years old, he grew up on the north shore of Long Island, near Port Jefferson, rooting for Henrik Lundqvist’s Rangers.
“I’m not a Ranger guy anymore,” said the affable Bussi, “so hopefully no one holds that against me.”
“The one thing I know about Bussi is, high-quality kid, strong work ethic … and he seems to win, which is a great quality to have in a goalie,’' said Providence coach Ryan Mougenel. “He did his job tonight ... and the other night [win over Ottawa on Friday], he did his job. Yeah, he’s gonna push.”
Tryout still a possibility "
Sweeney, though unwilling to identify who was on his radar, said he is still considering bringing in a player on a tryout basis (PTO) for the start of varsity camp Thursday.
Logic would dictate that it would be a defenseman, someone willing to sign for very short money ($1 million or less) while backenders Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy remain on the sidelines for the opening weeks of the season.
A possible candidate: veteran P.K. Subban, whose long-term deal, originally signed in Montreal, finally expired last season in New Jersey, his third campaign with the Devils. Subban, 33, though sometimes unruly on the ice, was among the game’s most dynamic defensemen in his prime.
“”He’s a good person, he really is,” mused Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald, the former Bruins crash-and-bang forward. “He’s a third pairing defenseman and I can’t believe no one’s signed him — a right shot. His feet aren’t the same, but he was never an issue in the room. He’s one of the guys … and the guys really enjoyed him.”
Sweeney said he expects there will be 15 forwards in camp, and upward of 18 defensemen. The season will begin with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman back on duty as the ‘tender tandem, but it’s a good bet camp will start with at least two other goalies sharing the practice workload.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.