As if there has not been enough chaos in the first three weeks of the offseason for the Boston Bruins, their leading goal scorer has become the subject of rampant NHL trade rumors.
David Pastrnak is heading into a walk year as his six-year contract that carried a $6.6 million salary cap hit will expire in July 2023. Its common place for a player heading into a walk year to be mentioned in NHL trade rumors but will that aforementioned chaos give Pastrnak more pause than he may have originally had before he puts pen to ink on a new contract with the Bruins?
As far as the Bruins are concerned they will do everything to ensure that doesn’t happen and ink the key piece to their future to a long-term extension.
“Well, we can’t have a discussion with David until the calendar year on the 15th, but I’ve said all along that I will attack that one as I have with all of our players that we’ve looked to go longer term on right away,” Sweeney said of his plans to lock up Pastrnak. “We’ll see where it goes. David has a decision to make in that same vein. He might be sitting back and balancing the same way with it, whether it’s Patrice or anybody else we’re adding. Those conversations will come to light, and we’ll have to make a decision based on the information I get.”
In his daily appearance on The Jeff Marek Show Tuesday, Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman also said from what he was hearing through his sources, the Bruins fully intend to sign Pastrnak to an extension and not shop him on the NHL Trade market. However, if the feeling isn’t mutual and Pastrnak decides to play out his final season, that could easily change depending on how the season goes.
“I believe their intention is to sign (Pastrnak),” Friedman told Marek. “And if for whatever reason they get the impression that they can’t sign him, then I think that that may change. But the initial sense I’m getting is that their goal is to sign him.”
But have the coaching change or recent injuries to key players given Pastrnak more pause on his future with the Bruins? Could he actually end up on the NHL trade market?
“I don’t know, I can’t see it right now,” a trusted NHL source told Boston Hockey Now Tuesday afternoon. “The Pasta I know would want to be part of the solution and help the team build back, but he does have more to think about now.”
Since the Bruins were bounced by the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game series loss in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they have lost winger Brad Marchand (hip) and defenseman Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) for the first two months of the 2022-23 regular season, and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk for the first two months. Then on Monday, the Bruins stunned the NHL world and fired head coach Bruce Cassidy, citing a stale message to the players and the need for a new voice.
Even before general manager Don Sweeney met with the media Tuesday and listed that as a major factor for the coaching change, there had been plenty of rumors that Cassidy’s message was falling on deaf ears, so if true, Cassidy getting fired likely wouldn’t be the reason for Pastrnak choosing to hit the free agent market in 2023. But could Sweeney be the reason?
In a column late Tuesday afternoon, Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic had source telling him that Pastrnak was not happy with the lack of effort to keep his two close friends Torey Krug and David Krejci during their walk years and had this to say on the potential of Pastrnak signing an extension with the Bruins:
“88 had seen how Don has treated his two best friends,” a source close to Pastrnak wrote The Athletic in a text. “No chance he comes back with Sweens as GM.”
With the Bruins potentially getting off to a bad start thanks to the aforementioned injuries and the potential that captain Patrice Bergeron could retire, to say with certainty that Pastrnak won’t end up on the NHL trade market and the Bruins may have to save face and trade him so they won’t lose him for nothing would be a mistake at this point. The read here is that the chaos isn’t done on Causeway St.