This is a good time for David Pastrnak to play the lottery.
Pastrnak is benefiting from good luck. Such fortune puts a bad-angle fling, like the one he whipped on the Tampa Bay goal in Sunday's third period, off Ben Bishop's pad, off Tyler Johnson's right foot, and into the back of the net.
On the other hand, Pastrnak could be striking his own version of Megabucks in short order.
Pastrnak is in the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract with the Bruins. He is earning the standard barebones annual salary of $925,000 — a tidy sum for any 20-year-old, but a fraction of what will be landing in his checking account soon.
Pastrnak's scoring luck is due to run out. He has 13 goals, second in the NHL only to Sidney Crosby (15), partly because he is sinking pucks at a 23.6 percent clip. Nobody can sustain that kind of skyscraper-high shooting percentage for an entire season. Even a generational scorer like Alex Ovechkin has a 12.4 career shooting percentage.
Last year, Pastrnak scored 15 goals while shooting 13.9 percent — a respectable number, but still mortal compared with his current unconscious rate.
But as much as Pastrnak is pumping pucks in nets, it's the manner in which he's played that should give his bosses confidence to commit the No. 1 right wing to a long-term extension.
Pastrnak is playing man's hockey, which couldn't always be said about his two first years. He is doing all of the things he sometimes fell short of executing as a teenager: being strong on pucks, chipping them out of the defensive zone, holding his ground in board battles, and sprinting into the dangerous areas of the ice. The goals are a byproduct of the grunt work he's been happy to do.
Former first-round picks who show flickers of promise sign bridge deals coming off their entry-level contracts. Recent examples include Tomas Hertl (two years, $6 million), Alex Galchenyuk (two years, $5.6 million), and Elias Lindholm (two years, $5.4 million).
Bridge deals make sense in some situations. They give the player some security, but also a workable window in which to improve and set himself up for an even bigger score with the third contract. For the organization, two years gives it more data with which to evaluate the player and develop a more accurate projection of his worth.
The risk for the team, however, is when a player spikes during the bridge deal, thereby driving up the price for the long-term extension. Montreal's Galchenyuk falls in this category. Through 22 games, the 22-year-old, now a full-time center, has nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points, fifth in the league. Galchenyuk will have greater bargaining power when his contract expires at the end of this season, with arbitration now available and sure to swing in his favor.
For other players, long-term second contracts are slam dunks. Consider the likes of Sean Monahan (seven years, $44.625 million), Nathan MacKinnon (seven years, $44.1 million), Filip Forsberg (six years, $36 million), and Aleksander Barkov (six years, $35.4 million). Because of their play over their entry-level deals, especially in the third seasons, their employers did not hesitate to give them an accelerated increase in term and salary on their second contracts. The teams did not require additional data to declare that they were the real deals and worthy of being paid as such.
Pastrnak is making a case to join the latter company. It has not hurt his numbers to play with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Pastrnak's linemates are the best 200-foot tandem in the league. They are relentless on pucks, which gives shoot-first wingers like Pastrnak plenty of opportunities to blast away.
During five-on-five competition, Pastrnak is averaging 73.2 shot attempts per 60 minutes of play, third-highest in the league behind Crosby (76.3) and Patric Hornqvist (74.0).
Pastrnak hasn't been just lucky. He's made the most of his chances by being a high-volume shooter.
Simply playing with Marchand and Bergeron, however, does not guarantee individual success. The Bruins gave Brett Connolly shifts on the first line last year. It resulted in Connolly being asked to leave.
No such fate is in Pastrnak's future. The bridge deal that he once looked likely to receive will not be necessary. His 17-game segment has provided enough evidence that he is now a grown-up and worthy of being paid long-term like one.
While he may fall short of the $6 million annual threshold set by some of his older peers, Pastrnak deserves at least five years of additional service via his next contract. He would be the first forward from the Class of 2014 to sign a second contract. So far, only first overall pick Aaron Ekblad (eight years, $60 million), Florida's stud defenseman, has earned his extension, which goes into effect next year.
Long-term deals aren't always ideal. Even a star like Marchand carries risk at the end of his eight-year extension. In the final season of his deal, Marchand will be 36 years old, his precious wheels likely to be spinning at a lower RPM.
Pastrnak, however, has yet to approach his peak performance. Even if he scores the eight-year maximum, he will still be 28 at the extension's conclusion, still well within his window of high-level play.
The Bruins do not have to lock up Pastrnak. He will not be eligible for arbitration when his entry-level deal expires. But making him a long-term centerpiece of their future is the right thing to do. He's earned it.
■ When, where: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.
■ TV, radio: NESN, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Goals: Wayne Simmonds 11, Jakub Voracek 8, Matt Read 6.
■ Assists: Claude Giroux 15, Voracek 11, Simmonds 10, Brayden Schenn 10.
■ Goaltending: Steve Mason (5-8-3, 3.04), Anthony Stolarz (1-0-0, 3.00).
■ Head to head: First of three meetings.
■ Miscellany: Giroux is tied for the Eastern Conference lead in assists . . . Flyers defensemen have 62 points this season, tops in the NHL.