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A conversation on what David Pastrnak is worth — and what would be too much

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Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

On Thursday night, we were having a conversation in our group Slack chat about the David Pastrnak contract situation and whether his agent’s demands were reasonable.

It occurred to us: why not make it a post and open up the discussion?

What’s below is the conversation, edited for clarity, we had about the whole situations. Participating were Dan Ryan (Managing Editor), Colin Beswick (Writer), SkyOnAir (Editor) and Jake Reiser (Editor).

The conversation centered around whether or not Pastrnak is worth $8 million per season, and went on from there.

Colin Beswick: Personally, I'm not paying him 8x8 even if he's worth it. RFA and little playing time. Is he worth every penny? Yes, but the structure is what it is and without Chiarelli being dumb, he never would have asked for so much.

I have harped on the front office for overpaying in the past, especially for lesser players but I'm going to be consistent and hope they don't overpay here as well.

Dan Ryan: Chiarelli is smart. Those are both good deals by Chiarelli. He has a ~4 year window now. There's no such thing as overpaying McDavid. And Draisaitl, eh, maybe a little high but that's your core, locked in.

Colin: He's smart until they come back to crush his cap. I don't mind McDavid but I'm not sold on Draisaitl and it was an overpayment. When I was looking at comps his contract was the only one near the % of cap hit.

10% of the cap for a player with less than 200 games is plenty and would put Yung Dave near the top of the list of comparable players. Anything more than that is an overpayment.

Will I be okay if they overpay? Yes, but it's still an overpayment. I can't believe I agree with Neely but one or two contracts don't negate the dozens of other comparable ones.

Dan: What are the other ones? Forsberg? His was blind luck. Same as Marchand. Luck in that they signed him to a low number before he blew up. Plus Pastrnak is a better scorer than Forsberg.

Colin: Most similarly talented players are around 8-9% of cap, some around 10%, and then there's Draisaitl at 11.33% or whatever it was.

Pastrnak has played fewer games, has had injuries and can't play center, all of which hurt him in negotiations. Personally, I think Pasta is better and said so in my piece but the front office will look at it differently to negotiate.

The cap is also projected to remain fairly stagnant in the next few years as well and with a lockout looming, I doubt these negotiations are as easy as past ones. I'm still not that worried about them not re-signing him.

Dan: Projected cap doesn't mean much. There's going to be another lockout, which means the whole cap structure will get messed up. Cap went up almost $10 million in the two years after the last two lockouts.

It wouldn't be unreasonable for the cap to be $85 million in a few years, meaning Pastrnak's 11% deal now is more like 8% when he's actually in his prime. You are investing in the future instead of paying for past performance

Colin: There is no guarantee of that though, and if I'm in Neely’s shoes I'm not paying a max deal to a RFA with less than 200 games.

The system is dumb but it is what it is and Pasta really doesn't have a ton of leverage. Is he going to sit out because he doesn't get $8 per?

Dan: Maybe. Why wouldn't he? Play that game, sure — then you burn another year of Marchand and Bergeron's productivity, burn another year of Rask.

They can say he has no leverage but Pastrnak is essential to this team having anything remotely resembling near-term success.

Colin: I don't think the cap will see anywhere near that much of an increase personally. And they aren't contending this year with or without Pasta so even if he does sit out, it's just public confidence the Bruins lose in long run.

I hated that they overpaid for Backes and Beleskey, but that doesn't mean I want them to overpay for Pasta either. There is a market and anything over 7.5 is an overpayment.

Dan: Look at last year's playoffs. The Senators, a bad team, were a bounce away from going to the final. I don't think the Bruins are true Stanley Cup contenders, but the East remains bad/

SkyonAir: Forget that, look at the fact the team was actually IN the playoffs. Where do you make up the loss in points? JFK? Vatrano?

Dan: Take the team that finished that Ottawa series, add Krug, Carlo and a full series of McAvoy. “Contender" isn't the right word, but there's no reason to think the team couldn't make noise at least.

For the Bruins to take a "meh, sit out, we don't care" attitude would be pretty misguided

Colin: I think Florida and Tampa are both going to be better than last year although Montreal will be worse. Can they make second round? Sure, it's the NHL any team can any given year with a hot goalie and a little luck.

Dan: Maybe they will. But there's really no reason to think the Bruins are going to be any *worse* either.

Colin: We will have to agree to disagree. The system is what it is and, as fantastic as Pasta is, you shouldn't have to overpay him just for the sake of overpaying him. If it was any other team who didn't have a history of screwing up with their young stars, this wouldn't even be a contested point.

RFA wingers don't make 10% + off their entry level deal when they played only 2/3rd of the possible games.

The Draisaitl deal really was bad in so many ways, but like you said PC doesn't care because he won't be there by the time the cap implodes in Edmonton.

Dan: You overpay now to underpay in the future. Or, you can do what the Bruins have done before, and overpay for past performance.

Colin: You can do that at 7.5 though, that's 10% and would put him at the very top echelon of his peers, which I would do 100%.

Dan: Sure, and that'd be a great deal. But 500k puts it over the top? Nah. Still a good deal.

Colin: I think he should get 8 x $7.25 and be happy personally, but he will get 7.5 and I'm fine with that. 8 is too much.

We joke about 500k, but PC was always paying guys an extra 500k here, an extra $1 m there *cough Chris Kelly* and it adds up.

McAvoy and Carlo are both going to command massive deals sooner than later too.

Jake Reiser: As much as I want to side with Colin that the 500K makes a difference and will with prospects down the stretch, I gotta go with Dan here. Give him the 8x $8. Make him happy. Happy Pasta=better Pasta and would translate into productivity hopefully.

Dan: Nah, you have two years for Carlo/McAvoy. In that two years, you move on from Krejci or Backes. Or both. Adios, $12 mil.

Colin: Hopefully.

Jake: I vote Backes.

Dan: I feel like that's a contract that has only begun to get bad. I hope I'm wrong. Nothing personal. Seems like a good teammate and all.


Colin: I'm not even going to be mad if he gets 8x $8, but I firmly believe that’s an objective overpayment based on everything I have seen on his market value.

Will it kill their cap in a vacuum? No. But I also believe in keeping a tight cap whenever possible.

Dan: I actually might just copy paste this conversation into a post.

So there you have it: some of us think Pastrnak should get paid, others think the Bruins should hold firm, and Sky thinks David Backes should earn his contract.


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