By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — A month ago, it looked like the Bruins would have to overpay in order to sign 21-year-old offensive wunderkind David Pastrnak. That turned out to be gloriously wrong.
Beyond scratching their heads (and maybe chuckling a little bit) at Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli busting out $8.5 million per season for Leon Draisaitl’s eight-year extension, Bruins fans and outside observers can chalk the Pastrnak negotiations up to a clear win for GM Don Sweeney, who ended up taking the tug of war definitively in his own direction.
He hasn’t had many off-ice wins in his three offseasons as Bruins GM, but it’s fair to note when he does. Now that Sweeney held his ground and ultimately convinced Pastrnak and his agent J.P. Barry to take the six years and $40 million, it’s a wonder why the player’s camp took so long and appeared to create all the perceived negotiating problems themselves.
Barry took his client up to the start of training camp for an extra $4 million? Remember, the Bruins’ initial reported offer was six years and $36 million, which Filip Forsberg received from the Predators last summer. It’s not the best look for Barry that he reportedly demanded $8.5 million a year before giving in on $6.667 million. You’d think they would have held out for at least $7 million per season, with an AAV closer to even $7.5-8 million possibly on the table. Instead, he conceded value to the Bruins and tacitly admitted that those silly trade rumors and ideas of playing in the KHL were just poorly deployed negotiating tactics.
A market dictating $7-plus million for talented young restricted free agents could have forced Sweeney to extend himself to keep Pastrnak in the fold. But he did the right thing to simply wait, and while he did cede an extra $4 million on top of what he originally offered, he didn’t have to put Pastrnak’s AAV above that of Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million). He’s sandwiched between Bergy and Brad Marchand, and the latter didn’t sound upset about the idea of his teammate jumping him in the paycheck pecking order.
Sweeney has a ways to go for his “wins” to be even with his “losses” as Bruins GM. The David Backes signing still has albatross potential (it probably will be in the end), Matt Beleskey is going in the wrong direction, and he still gets an “Incomplete” grade on both the Milan Lucic/Martin Jones trades and pretty much every draft pick besides Charlie McAvoy (Brandon Carlo looks pretty good too). But his W on the Pastrnak deal – and if Marchand keeps putting up elite numbers, that’s also a win – at the very least makes him look competent and … dare I say … shrewd?
As for Pastrnak, the blame likely falls more on Barry for what now feels like unnecessary feet-dragging. The hope is that Pastrnak quickly gets up to speed after missing just a couple days of camp and doesn’t skip a beat after his breakout season. It’s a giant relief to see “Pasta” return to the team, but it’s annoyingly curious as to why everyone had to spend the summer wondering when it would happen.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.