By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Even two years after leaving his post as Bruins GM, Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli is still impacting his former team.
On Wednesday the Oilers announced that they have signed restricted free agent forward Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year extension worth an average annual value of $8.5 million. The 21-year-old Draisaitl is coming off a 29-goal, 77-point season in just his second full season in the National Hockey League.
Here’s where Chiarelli is throwing a wrench into the Bruins’ plans: Draisaitl’s situation has long drawn comparisons to that of Bruins winger David Pastrnak, who remains without a long-term deal of his own as he and GM Don Sweeney have not made as much progress to this point as anyone had hoped.
Although Draisaitl and Pastrnak’s point-per-game numbers are virtually identical to this point in their careers, it’s easy to argue that Draisaitl is a more valuable player than Pastrnak who deserved a higher AAV on a long-term deal. Draisaitl was drafted higher, as he went third overall in 2014 while Pastrnak went 25th. Though Draisaitl has played some wing alongside Connor McDavid, he is primarily a center while Pastrnak will never play down the middle.
Still, in the wake of Draisaitl’s extension, Pastrnak’s price has likely gone way up.
If Sweeney was hoping to get Pastrnak to agree to a deal closer to the $6-6.5 million AAV range, forget about it now. If Draisaitl is worth $8.5 million per season, Pastrnak’s camp has a case for at least $7 million. Anything north of David Krejci’s $7.25 million cap hit would make Pastrnak the highest-paid player on the Bruins.
Would Pastrnak be worth it? On the Bruins as currently constituted, he is arguably their most talented offensive player. Brad Marchand, who now feels underpaid at an annual cap hit of $6.125 million, is the only player you could argue otherwise.
A $7.5 million AAV for Pastrnak would put him on par with the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, who had only scored 30-plus goals one time before scoring an eight-year extension in July of 2015. He’s scored 40 and 39 goals in the two seasons since. The pure numbers say Pastrnak deserves a similar deal, but Tarasenko is stronger and controls the puck better than Pastrnak at this point in his career. So you could argue that the same deal for Pastrnak, who still has room to improve in areas other than scoring, as an overpayment.
The Bruins do still have control over Pastrnak, who would have to sit out the season or make less money to play in Europe if he and the team can’t agree to a long-term deal. Ultimately, it’s best for both sides that they agree to something, even if it’s just a two-year bridge deal.
But no matter what Pastrnak ends up signing for in Boston, the price just went up. It may yet be worth it for Sweeney to extend himself for a dynamic homegrown talent, but either way he’s going to need to make more room for Pasta. And he can partially thank Chiarelli for that.
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.