Boston Bruins president Cam Neely figured he had “the comp.”
Now, as anyone who watches HGTV can tell you, the comp is essential. You buy the house, you invest in the house, but you really can’t set the price on selling the house unless someone else in the neighborhood sold their abode within the range of what you’re looking to ask — the “comp’ if you will. Once you secure the comp, you know what your property is worth within the framework of the marketplace – above and beyond what that value is to you.
With it came to winger David Pastrnak, a restricted free agent, Neely’s comp was Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg, who signed a six-year deal with $36 million last summer. That was after two outstanding seasons in which he scored 26 and 33 goals, and 63 and 64 points in 82 games. Pastrnak, after all, had one outstanding season: 34 goals and 36 assists in 75 games as a 20 year old last year. (Forsberg was 21 when he signed his deal.)
As has been widely reported, the Bruins had had a deal on the table for Pastrnak for some time. It can be six years or it can be seven years. The cap hit is about $6 million. That’s Forsberg money.
But Forsberg money was last year’s comp.
The new comp is Leon Draisaitl. And that’s a problem for the Bruins.
Draisaitl, 21, has played three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, but his contract was cemented based on last season: 29 goals and 48 assists in 82 games, much of that credited to riding the wing of Connor McDavid.
For that, he earned an eight-year contract with $8.5 million against the cap. And just like that, the financial landscape in the NHL for 20-year-old offensive stars was shifted.
“To be honest with you, we haven’t really gotten a response on what they’re looking for,” Neely told the Boston Herald. “I know when they talked early on, they had some parameters to work around, some comps that I think both sides felt were fair at that particular time, so an offer was made but there really wasn’t much dialogue after that. So I think it’s kind of pointless for us to negotiate against ourselves. But I feel confident we can get something done. I think David has expressed that he loves it here and wants to play here. We want him here for as long as it makes sense for us.”
As far as the Oilers’ deal with their young star?
“We’re looking at those comps, not so much our own team. What did those players do prior to getting contracts and how does it stack up against David? I know everyone’s talking about the Draisaitl contract, and rightfully so they were waiting to see what was going to happen there. But that’s one player.”
This is true. Except Draisaitl has 137 points in 191 NHL games, and Pastrnak has 123 in 172 career games.
In other words, these two players have the same points per game average (0.72) in their careers, despite one of them spending parts of two seasons with arguably the best player in the world.
The Bruins and Pastrnak’s agent J.P. Barry were supposed to talk on Friday. But TSN’s Darren Dreger believes that things might get “greasy” between the two sides on money, as he told WGR in Buffalo:
“You look at some of the comps that exist out there. Again, Leon Draisaitl’s $8.5 million. Is Pastrnak that much less of a player than Draisaitl? Draisaitl is a center, so we’ll give him a premium nudge there. But the point production is pretty close in terms of entry-level players. Then you look at [Vladimir] Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, which is, again, I think a fair comp. His AAV is at $7.5 million.
“So I think that this could get greasy. I think that this negotiation between David Pastrnak and the Boston Bruins, unless the Bruins change their position and they come off their number, this could be headed in a dark direction.”
The Boston Bruins have about $10.2 million in cap space for next season with 43 contracts. Pastrnak is the lone unsigned RFA. Give him Draisaitl money, and the Bruins are a hell of a lot closer to the ceiling than they want to be.
(There’s something absolutely delicious about Peter Chiarelli creating the Bruins’ current cap situation and their current headache with Pastrnak as Leon Draisaitl’s general manager. Revenge, thy name is Chia.)
Does Pasta deserve Draisaitl money? Not really. Draisaitl is a special case – as Dreger notes, he’s being paid first-line center money to be a second-line center behind Connor McDavid.
Pastrnak is a brilliant player, no doubt, but the Oilers having confidence in Draisaitl anchoring a second line is much different than how the Bruins likely feel about a winger whose breakout season came on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
(And how much of this is fueled by Neely not wanting to give Pastrnak more than his linemates?)
Will Pastrnak get Draisaitl money? Great question. And one that the player and his agent are probably more happy to answer now than they were before the summer. Because while Edmonton isn’t exactly in the neighborhood, they gave them an undeniable “comp” for Boston.
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