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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Huberdeau Deal Sets Table For Boston Bruins, Pastrnak

While there hasn’t been any palpable progress on a David Pastrnak extension this summer with the Boston Bruins still facing unsigned contracts for captain Patrice Bergeron and a looming Aug. 11 arbitration hearing with Pavel Zacha, the marketplace continues to take shape for both the team and the player.

The surprising eight-year, $84 million contract extension between Jonathan Huberdeau and the Calgary Flames spurred on by last week’s Montreal dinner between the player and Calgary GM Brad Treliving could absolutely be a comparable when it comes to Pastrnak. Huberdeau is older and a bit of a different kind of player than Pastrnak, but he’s also an elite winger and that is going to be Pastrnak’s direct neighborhood for comparable contracts.

The 29-year-old Huberdeau is coming off 30 goals and 115 points with the Panthers last season in a Hart Trophy-level performance prior to being involved in the Matthew Tkachuk trade and has posted 198 goals and 613 points in 671 games (.295 goals per game and .913 points per game) during his career with Florida.

Pastrnak is younger, of course, at 26 years old, but has more goals (240 career goals) and 504 points in 510 games (.47 goals per game and .988 points per game) for better overall numbers than the newest Calgary winger. That puts a $10.5 million per season player squarely into Pastrnak’s wheelhouse as a comparable whose numbers Pastrnak has actually bettered in his career while admittedly not being as durable as the former Panthers player that’s finished with at least 80 games played in three of his last five NHL seasons.

Pastrnak has been able to play more than 80 games just once in his NHL career, and has absolutely battled different, nagging injuries at playoff time over the last few years. Those kinds of durability questions might be the only blemish on Pastrnak’s resume at this point during a brilliant NHL career, but despite all that the 26-year-old has put up the numbers to merit a contract in the $10-11 million per season range.

Simply put, there aren’t game breakers like Pastrnak available on the open market, so a team like the Bruins will gladly pay to keep him in Black and Gold.

The Huberdeau deal only backs that up even more, even if Calgary had to shell out top dollar to Huberdeau in order to “win” the trade with Florida that’s been part of a rough offseason where they had to wave goodbye to both Johnny Gaudreau and Tkachuk. The Flames will come out of it all looking good if they can sign both Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar to contract extensions after acquiring them from Florida. There are higher comprables (Mitch Marner at $10.9 million per season) and lower ones like Filip Forbserg’s $8.5 million per season extension with Nashville along with the $9.75 million per season Gaudreau signed for in Columbus, but Huberdeau is the one that lines up most reasonably next to No. 88.

Pastrnak, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be too worried about it as he gathered with his friends and Boston Bruins teammates for Tuukka Rask’s wedding in Italy a week ago.

If anything is going to convince players like Pastrnak, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron to reup with the Black and Gold it’s absolutely going to be reminders like social gatherings at weddings that it’s about the people rather than the money involved.

It has some people, like my partner-in-crime and colleague James Murphy, even wondering if they should trade for Milan Lucic to really get the band back together. That isn’t going to happen, of course, but it’s a fun little flight of fantasy while reminiscing about the good, old days behind the 2011 Stanley Cup run, and perhaps one last run this upcoming season with Bergeron and Krejci as their top two centers.

Pastrnak is going to be paid top dollar no matter where he goes and he knows it. It’s about where he and his family are going to be happiest and most comfortable, and there’s really no reason to believe that’s anywhere else but Boston at this point. But make no mistake about it, the Bruins are going to probably have to make Pastrnak the highest paid player on the Boston Bruins if they want to keep him. That means a long-term contract worth more than the $9.5 million per season they signed Charlie McAvoy to last season, and it probably means something in the neighborhood of the Huberdeau deal just signed with the Flames.

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