Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was ready for the onslaught of David Pastrnak questions as Bruins training camp got underway Wednesday at Warrior Arena.
A day after the Colorado Avalanche signed their star winger Nathan MacKinnon to a eight-year, $100.8 million ($12.6M AAV), contract extension, Boston Bruins superstar winger David Pastrnak arrived at Bruins training camp with no contract signed beyond the upcoming season.
As he likely will continue to be until he locks David Pastrnak up to a contract extension, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was grilled by the media on the status of what he continues to describe as ongoing negotiations with Pastrnak’s agent J.P. Barry. While Sweeney would love to wake up Thursday, find common ground with Barry and Pastrnak, and announce an extension, he doesn’t seem overly concerned that as of now, it appears Pastrnak very likely could begin the 2022-23 regular season with an extension.
“I don’t think there’s a concern,” Don Sweeney told reporters Wednesday after team physicals and off-ice workouts on the first day of camp. “David would be the only one to ideally speak to that. Perfect world, as we’ve referenced, (we) try and be aggressive to have him sign long-term as a lifelong Bruin. It’s always been our goal. I think David shed a little light in terms of where he was at personally. And we respected that. I’ve had conversations, I’m going to continue to have conversations and I’d ideally like to get it done at the earliest point possible. And hopefully, he feels the exact same way, and his camp. So that’s what our goal is. Outside of that, I’m not going to comment on anything else, other than that’s ultimately what we’d like to do.”
Don Sweeney then tried to move the scheduled media session along to a different topic when pressed even more.
” … I really don’t expand until a deal is done,” he reminded the reporter asking the follow-up. “Because things just change. You recognize that there’s factors in play and (comparable) groups and you just try to grind it out. Ultimately, you’ve got to find common ground and the player has to be happy and we’re going to try to do that.”
Unfortunately for the Boston Bruins GM, who came under heavy scrutiny this past offseason in the aftermath of a first round playoff exit and then the firing of Bruce Cassidy, the David Pastrnak questions didn’t stop. To his credit though, Don Sweeney gave well thought out, honest and insightful answers.
When asked about the potential of David Pastrnak signing a team-friendly deal – like so many claim Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did at or around Pastrnak’s age – to help the Boston Bruins remain competitive within the confines of the salary cap, Sweeney correctly pointed out that, at time, both players signed for market value. It was only years later, because of skyrocketing salaries and the way each player performed, did Bergeron’s eight-year, 55 million ($6.8M AAV) contract extension signed on July 12, 2013 and Krejci’s six-year, $43.5 million ($7.2M AAV), truly become ‘team-friendly’ deals.
“The salary cap is a dynamic in any of these equations that we’re trying to put together,” Sweeney acknowledged. “I don’t think there’s much of a comparable where Patrice and David are in their careers. We’re grateful that they’re still playing hockey and at the level that they’re capable of. David is a young player in the prime of his career and I think when Patrice and David Krejci signed their contracts, they were market-value deals and I expect us to approach the same – not unlike any of our other players, whether it’s Charlie McAvoy or anybody else. Everybody has a – whether you got arb (arbitration) rights or you don’t have arb rights; UFA rights; all the things that fall in line – and I think we’ve been pretty consistent trying to put market place deals and that’s just what it requires to tell you the truth; especially with really good players, they have leverage.”
When asked what effect the MacKinnon contract or other comparable mega extensions signed this past offseason will have on David Pastrnak negotiations, Sweeney took a bit of a shot – in good fun – at the media, but accepted that it’s part of negotiations and his job as an NHL GM to deal with such external factors.
“Outside voices, inside voices of the market place. …let’s be honest, the media doesn’t help us in that regard, for a negotiation standpoint,” Sweeney replied. “But we have to do our job and ultimately that’s what I’m going to try and do, and we’ve been, as an organization, wanting to retain our good young players and David’s one of those players that we want to retain.’