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Analysis: Taking A Look At Pastrnak Comparables

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How two comparable players set the market limits

Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins - Game Four

As any fan of the Bruins can tell you, offseason contract negotiations bring out widespread opinion and speculation. When it involves a player of David Pastrnak’s caliber, the intensity only grows. Two current players and their contracts appear to have set the upper and lower market extremes for David Pastrnak.

On the lower side you have budding Nashville superstar Filip Forsberg, signed to a 6 year, $36 million deal before last season. On the high end, you have recently enriched Oiler young gun Leon Draisaitl with his 8 year, $68 million deal. Why does this matter? Well, these two players are about as close a recent comparison to David Pastrnak as you can reasonably find. Keep in mind no comparison, no matter how close is perfect, however they can still provide helpful context to the ongoing negotiations between Pasta’s prominent agent JP Barry and the Bruins front office.

A few things to note:

Player Position: Both Draisaitl and Forsberg can play Center, whereas Pastrnak cannot. Generally speaking, the ability to play Center is worth more than wing.

Market Timing: It is no secret that recent mega contracts for the true elite/generational players (McDavid/Kane/Toews/Kopitar etc) have driven up salaries for the tiers below them. Keep this in mind as players will be asking for more than in recent years.

Rising Salary Cap: Anytime you compare contracts, it is much easier to compare percentage of salary cap instead of plain dollars. As the salary cap changes each year, and contracts are signed in different cap years, having a consistent metric (% of cap) is invaluable and allows for like to like comparisons.

Front Office Philosophy/Cap Management: All front offices are not equal, nor are their respective cap space amounts. Contracts are not signed in a vacuum and fans should consider each team’s available cap space at time of the deal, as well as history of contracts under current GM/President. Think Chiarelli and his history of overpaying “his guys” versus a GM like Yzerman who has consistently kept young talented players for at or below “market value”.

Intangibles/Injury History/Bonuses: Silly or not, front offices value things like “grit” and physicality, often to their detriment (See: Backes, David) and will weigh a player on them. Injury histories, or better yet the ability/inability to stay healthy is also a large factor in contract length/amount. Recently, a point of contention has been the size of player bonuses driven out of fear of another upcoming lockout. This has likely factored into the Pastrnak negotiations. Finally, a players willingness to play in that market, their marketability/star factor etc. are considered during negotiations.

Now that we have set the ground rules so to speak, let’s look at the players referenced.

STATS:

Pasta2.csv

Current David Pastrnak Filip Forsberg Leon Draisaitl At Time of Signing David Pastrnak Filip Forsberg Leon Draisaitl
Current David Pastrnak Filip Forsberg Leon Draisaitl At Time of Signing David Pastrnak Filip Forsberg Leon Draisaitl
Games Played 172 264 191 Games Played 172 182 191
Goals 59 91 50 Goals 59 60 50
Assists 64 100 87 Assists 64 73 87
Points 123 191 137 Points 123 133 137
PPG 0.715 0.723 0.717 PPG 0.715 0.73 0.717
GPG 0.343 0.344 0.261 GPG 0.343 0.329 0.261
% of Points via PP 0.36 0.208 0.199 % of Points via PP 0.36 0.345 0.199
+/- 26 -1 -12 +/- 26 3 -12
Age 21 23 21 Age 21 22 21
% of Cap N/A 8% 11.33% % of Cap N/A 8.22% 11.33%
HERO Comparison
http://ownthepuck.blogspot.com/

As the stats above plainly show, all three players are a reasonable facsimile of each other. They are all within 2 years of each other’s age, they all play forward and the basic underlying stats show comparable scoring ability. The largest difference is in games played, where Pastrnak has the fewest, a point that arguably hurts his negotiations. With the HERO Player Comparison tool, we can see that both players have been more productive than Pastrnak, albeit with more ice time for both.

Comparable Player Contracts:

Using CapFriendly’s wonderful comparable player tool, we can see recent player’s contracts and their cap hit % below.

Comparable Players.csv

PLAYER SIGNING AGE YEARS POS GP P C.H.% CAP HIT
PLAYER SIGNING AGE YEARS POS GP P C.H.% CAP HIT
Draisaitl, Leon 21 2017-25 C 191 137 11.33% $8,500,000
Kuznetsov, Evgeny 25 2017-25 C 261 182 10.40% $7,800,000
Tarasenko, Vladimir 23 2015-23 RW 179 135 10.27% $7,500,000
Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan 20 2014-21 C 102 76 9.33% $6,000,000
Duchene, Matt 22 2014-19 C 266 193 9.33% $6,000,000
Gaudreau, Johnny 23 2016-22 LW 160 143 9.25% $6,750,000
Monahan, Sean 21 2016-23 C 237 159 8.73% $6,375,000
O'Reilly, Ryan 23 2014-16 C 345 191 8.70% $6,000,000
Landeskog, Gabriel 20 2014-21 LW 118 69 8.66% $5,571,429
CapFriendly.com

Leon Draisaitl: Frankly, Chiarelli likely overpaid for a player that is at least in some ways propped up by McDavid, and whose contract was inflated both by McDavid’s massive 8 year, $12.5 million per contract and by Chiarelli’s questionable negotiating abilities. While he will likely be worth his contract down the road, it is an overpayment in the short term at 11.33% of current salary cap. Pasta’s camp is likely looking at this as a starting point for negotiations, whereas the Bruins likely have no intention of going this high even if they can technically afford to.

Filip Forsberg: The opposite is true here, the Predators came away the winners of this contract negotiation by signing a future stud to a contract worth only 8% of their salary cap, which is rare in the NHL. However, they did lose out on term by only signing him to a 6 year deal instead of a maximum 8 year deal.

So what does this mean for the Bruins and for Pastrnak? It likely means the deal will be in between the two amounts, and if history is any indicator it will be closer to Forsberg’s 8% than Draisaitl’s 11.33%. I would venture to guess a range of 8.75% to 9.75% which would be a dollar range of $6.56m - $7.125m. When you factor in the intangibles and various other factors referenced above, I could see it being in the higher end of that scale, putting him right alongside or above Bergeron and Krecji and above Marchand’s team friendly deal.

From an eye test point of view, even in a limited sample size, Pastrnak appears to be a more skilled player, in particular a better pure scorer than either, with an elite shot and the ability to create a shot from any part of the ice. He also has a obvious willingness to improve his all around game, something that young stars often do not. For me and many who follow the team, his upside cannot purely be measured by statistics alone, and I am bullish on his future, even with such a short sample size. While I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get as much as $7.5 million, Sweeney has seemingly been a fast learner the longer he has been the GM and will likely try to avoid the overpayments he and his predecessor made in the past (Krejci/Backes).

Regardless of anyone’s opinion, he is due for a significant raise and has earned the right to negotiate for a contract in line with his peers. Bruins fans of all opinions should be happy to see him in Black and Gold for the next 6-8 years, regardless of contract cost.