Oh god no! Here we go again. Once again the Bruins have a young and very talented player that they just can’t seem to hold onto. In the last decade the Bruins seem to have a history of trading very talented players coming into their prime and in return get next to nothing
Let’s recap: going all the way back to 2005 when the Bruins decided to trade Joe Thornton who was in his prime at 26 years old. In exchange they got a 3rd line defenseman (Brad Stuart), a borderline second line forward (Marco Sturm) and a nobody (Wayne Primeau). These players were all eventually traded. If you follow the trades down to what we have today, we essentially traded Joe Thornton, the #1 overall pick in 1997 for Bartkowski and Koklachev. Was that worth it? Neither of those guys can stay in the NHL for more than a week before getting scratched or sent back down.
The next big blunder the Bruins had was trading Phil Kessel in 2009 when he was just 21 years old. The Bruins traded Kessel to Toronto for 3 draft picks, including 2 first round picks. One could argue the Bruins actually got a great deal for Phil Kessel, the problem is what they did with their assets. The Bruins turned those picks into Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, and a useless AHL player (Knight). What do we have to show for this deal? Absolutely nothing! Seguin may be the biggest botched trade in Bruins history, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Hamilton on the other hand was traded in a panic to Calgary in order to clear cap room. Good to know a top line defenseman in his early 20’s can be traded away because of cap issues. The Bruins now have Joe Morrow to show for this… awesome
Tyler Seguin, a young kid with a great talent for goal scoring was suddenly traded. The reason the fans were given was that Seguin had attitude problems and was unruly. Apparently Seguin went out and partied in the 2013 playoffs in Toronto. Doing this caused upper management to turn on him. Because 21 year old kids never go out and party… They traded him away for Louie Erickson and Joe Morrow. Erickson walked in free agency and Morrow is a pile of trash. Three of the biggest talents the Bruins have had in the last decade all got traded, with next to nothing in return. The Bruins have a terrible history of botching trades and contracts.
The newest situation to get botched is the one with David Pastrnak. A young talent that is capable of goal scoring in high numbers. This whole situation with the contract dispute could have been avoided. Don Sweeney should have came to Pastrnak about extending his contract last year. That is what he did with Marchand. Marchand was extended before the season event started. Nobody had to worry about the little rat because Sweeney did the right thing with him. He has simply waited too long with Pastrnak. He no longer has a lot of viable options left since Pastrnak has all the leverage, and wants a high dollar deal. The Bruins may not be capable of dishing out high dollar money as of now due to cap problems.
The way I see it the Bruins essentially have 4 options. Option number 1 is to pay Pastrnak what he is asking. This could be dangerous, landing the team in further cap troubles both this year and down the road. This kind of albatross around the Bruins neck is what caused the downfall of Pater Chiarelli and I would suspect Sweeney is not trying to end up in that situation
Option number 2 is the Bruins can wait Pastrnak out. Pastrnak is a young kid and still a restricted free agent. If the Bruins were to wait him out and he were to not show up to training camp the Bruins could be at risk of losing Pastrnak for a portion of the season in a contract dispute, similar to how Winnipeg was without Trouba for a few months because of contract talks last season. As a Bruins fan, this is obviously not ideal.
The third option is the Bruins could pay Pastrnak what he is asking, but structure the deal, so that in his first few years he is making just a couple million, but toward the end of his contract the numbers multiply exponentially. Pastrnak could end up with a 5 year deal in which he gets payed 2 million in year 1 and 9 million in year 5. This is a problem for the cap as well, but it essentially pushes the problem off until a few years down the road when more cap room clears. There is a big downside to doing this, and that is often teams don’t feee up enough money for the final years and end up trading their players to clear the cap room. These teams doing cap dumps often end up taking the worst end of the trade. P.K. Subban and Filipino Foresberg are great examples of players that had a deal structured like this, and their teams were forced to deal them away. Ironically, they both not play for Nashville after being traded.
The fourth and final option is one I hope the Bruins do not do. This final option is one in which the Bruins trade away Pastrnak now and get what they can for him. This is negative because not only would the Bruins be losing yet another great goal scorer, but they will also be getting less than he is worth because other teams will know the Bruins are in a bind. When the Bruins hands get tied, other teams are able to swoop in and get Pastrnack for a great price.
I think Sweeney needs to get to the table and try to talk Pastrnak down. This may not work, and of the 4 scenarios I presented above, the least shitty option is to structure Pastrnak’s deal. You may end up paying him more in the long run, but you will have a goal scoring talent locked up for 5-6 more years at a low price for the first few. The Bruins could always try to get something for him in the future when they have more leverage, or they could find the cap room to keep him.