NHL Salaries

Why didn’t David Pastrnak sign a contract with the Bruins?

David Pastrnak wanted a normal offseason. He wouldn’t wish the last two he lived on anyone.

Pastrnak underwent hip surgery ahead of 2020-21. He was only allowed to return in the eighth game of the season. Last summer, her son Viggo died in June shortly after birth.

You can then understand why Pastrnak has identified continuing to heal with partner Rebecca Rohlsson and their families and training for 2022-23 as his summer priorities. Not even the question of an eight-year extension and an eight-figure annual salary was at the heart of Pastrnak’s mind.

For now, Pastrnak has assigned agent JP Barry to discuss dollars with general manager Don Sweeney. Pastrnak’s attention has been elsewhere.

“I know there has been contact between Sweens and my agent,” Pastrnak said Friday after his first informal practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I haven’t had a normal summer for a few years. My biggest thing was to prepare for this season, physically and mentally. This has not been easy. The motivation this year was at its height compared to the last two years. I had hip surgery, and even the last year was tough.

“Finally this summer I was able to work really hard and focus on my game. That was my main focus. That’s why we have agents to take care of this stuff. The player stays focused.

Pastrnak is entering the final season of his six-year, $40 million deal. The Bruins want to sign him with another. Pastrnak shares this opinion. Boston has been home since he was 18, misplacing his passport for a father dealing with the cruellest of heartaches.

Pastrnak, more than ever, will have to win. Friday morning, before the rest of his teammates left, Brad Marchand hit the ice skates for the first time since undergoing double hip surgery on May 27. The No. 1 left winger might not be back until late November or early December.

Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, meanwhile, are recovering from their respective shoulder surgeries. They’re used to defending hard and putting the puck on Pastrnak’s stick.

With three string shooters and a new coach, Pastrnak needs to come out strong early on if the Bruins have any chance of holding serve. Pastrnak is focused on instant chemistry with Taylor Hall and David Krejci, his most likely linemates, more than putting pen to paper.

Sweeney and Barry searched for a solution. They met in Montreal before the draft in June, even before Pastrnak was eligible to sign an extension. Talks continued through the summer.

Pastrnak is used to practicing contractual patience. In 2017, when his entry-level contract expired, he signed his extension on September 14, when daytime training camp opened. He only arrived in Boston after his teammates had undergone medicals and hit the ice for the start of camp.

Circumstances have changed since Pastrnak’s last contract. He’s a more fully expressed superpower, one that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the game’s most dangerous offensive wizards. Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask, standout pieces in 2017, are gone. Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are back for 2022-23. But at their age, projections beyond the present are a waste of time to do.

Meanwhile, wages are rising.

• JT Miller, who has just one season left on his contract, signed a seven-year, $56 million contract on 2 September. Miller is 30 years old.

• Jonathan Huberdeau, who is also entering the final season of his contract, signed an eight-year, $84 million blockbuster on 4 August. Huberdeau is 29 years old.

• As an unrestricted free agent, Johnny Gaudreau scored a seven-year salary of $68.25 million on July 13. Gaudreau is 29 years old.

Considering his age and projected performance, Pastrnak is right to win more than all three. The Bruins are in no position to disagree.

Pastrnak and McAvoy are their future. Bergeron and Krejci didn’t return to see Pastrnak traded instead of extended.

Pastrnak probably doesn’t want that either. He is likely to share many more shifts with Krejci than he has in the past. A reunion at the 2022 World Championship in Finland brought Pastrnak to life. The Czechs won bronze with Krejci (three goals, 12 points) and Pastrnak (seven and 10) strutting.

“I have to say that was a highlight of my last season,” Pastrnak said. “The joy it brought me to play hockey again at the World Championship is kind of what I was looking for when I went there this year. It happened.”

Krejci had yet to decide on his 2022-23 destination at the time. Pastrnak likes to think he played a role in his return to Boston.

“A few apples at Worlds, passed him a few empty nets, let him win at cards,” Pastrnak said. “I had a few beers in Czech. And he’s back. We obviously talked a lot. I can’t wait for him to come back and things to pick up again. »

Krejci, 36, doesn’t have much of a future in the NHL. This is not the case for Pastrnak. He still has a lot to do. The salary at which he performs these things may soon be determined.

(Photo: James Guillory/USA Today)