Leon Draisaitl

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Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension

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The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.

The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.

Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.

“Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.

“Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”

Draisaitl shrugs off pressure of new deal, starts on different line than McDavid

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If nothing else, Leon Draisaitl is saying all the right things about how he’ll handle the contract he received from the Edmonton Oilers.

Deep down, he might be nervous about justifying an $8.5 million cap hit over eight years, but as Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun reports, the German forward insists that he won’t change the way he plays.

“I think that’s the worst thing I could do right now, try and do too much,” Draisaitl said on Friday. “I’m going to try and be myself, play the same way, do the same things I did last year, but still try and improve my game.

“For me (the contract) doesn’t change much.”

More: Under Pressure – Leon Draisaitl

Todd McLellan discussed that situation in the same story, making a fair point: sometimes people assume that a player struggles because of contract pressures, when it could be something else.

In Draisaitl’s case, the “something else” could be fairly obvious: carrying his own line rather than being on Connor McDavid‘s wing.

You can go blue in the face debating nature vs. nurture regarding Draisaitl, but it’s undeniable that he spent about half of his even-strength minutes with McDavid in 2016-17, his breakthrough season.

So far, it looks like Draisaitl will line up with a relative unknown (Drake Caggiula) and a guy with an equally polarizing contract (Milan Lucic), at least early on in training camp. As you might expect, Draisaitl’s saying the right things about that, and he’s impressed Lucic.

“He has showed he can help take this team to another level and we’re going to need him to be the same type of player he was last year,” Lucic said, via the Oilers site. “He’s a lot of fun to play with. He uses his linemates, he uses his size, he uses his speed and I’m excited to see what kind of player he’s going to be for us this season.”

Edmonton noted that McDavid and Draisaitl could pair up again, but if you look at teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, they often manage their rosters by having their high-priced players bring along younger, cheaper players and veterans alike.

The comparisons will be there for years when it comes to Draisaitl, and some might not be so flattering.

Give him credit for having a good attitude, though.

Big, bad contracts? Bruins’ salary cap situation after Pastrnak signing

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With a $6,666,666 cap hit, David Pastrnak‘s six-year contract might seem like a deal with the devil for the Boston Bruins. All things considered, it’s actually pretty reasonable, though.

Pastrnak is 21, and he only reached the legal drinking age in the U.S. on May 25. His youthful potential makes him stick out like a sore thumb on a Bruins roster that is, well, a little … veteran-heavy.

(It’s really experienced; yeah, that’s the way to put it.)

This Pastrnak contract seems like a solid excuse to examine the Bruins’ salary cap structure, continuing what’s become a running series at PHT.

Expensive old guys (and David Pastrnak)

Let’s begin with aging players whose contracts aren’t so scary … at least not right now.

Patrice Bergeron – 32 years old, $6.875M cap hit expires after 2021-22

Here’s a quick summation of my opinion regarding Bergeron: I once argued on Rotoworld’s Podcast that he probably belonged on the NHL’s list of the 100 greatest players of all-time. Bergeron can do it all, and figures to remain a serious difference-maker for some time.

Even so, Bergeron’s dealt with some troubling concussion issues, and has a lot of NHL mileage on his body. He’s been a fixture since 2003-4, after all.

There’s some concern that he’ll regress sharply, but here’s the thing: Bergeron is a steal right now, so the Bruins might just have to pay more in the future for getting a huge bargain in the past.

Pastrnak – 21, Mark of the Beast cap hit runs through 2022-23

It’s a near-certainty that Pastrnak’s numbers were inflated by his time with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but such logic didn’t hurt Leon Draisaitl‘s wallet (i.e. the Connor McDavid bump), now did it? Injuries and other bad bounces can change things fast, but as it stands, this seems like a nice value.

Marchand – 29, $6.125M through 2024-25

The Bruins must have breathed a sigh of relief that they were able to re-sign Marchand at a reasonable cap hit, even as he was erupting from “really good and really annoying” to “really, really, REALLY good and really annoying.”

It’s easy to forget how frequently Marchand’s name landed in trade rumors when his points-to-agitation ratio wasn’t quite as helpful to the Bruins’ cause.

Right now, Marchand is a steal, probably an extreme one. He’s dangerously close to 30, and that’s a long contract, so that deal could be a problem in the future (especially considering how he likes to mix it up).

Tuukka Rask – 30, $7M through 2020-21

As the Bruins have declined from a contender to a team scraping to make the playoffs, the hype has fizzled for Rask to an extent. That’s just a nature of hype, though, because Rask remains one of the best workhorses in the game.

The problem remains similar: he’s getting up there in age. The term is both good news (not agonizingly long if he really slips) and bad news (four years, so if he does slip, the Bruins must find answers in net).

Old, expensive guys: part yikes

Matt Beleskey might not qualify as “old” at 29, but his contract is aging like reverse-wine with three years left at $3.8M. David Backes is 33 and costs $6M for four more years. Yeah, not good.

David Krejci straddles the line between those two groups. He quietly had a solid season in 2016-17, but at 31 and with a $7.25M cap hit, his contract might be something the Bruins regret. Especially if he really starts to hit a wall with four years remaining.

Decisions on defense

Reports indicate that the Bruins have at least discussed an extension with 40-year-old, bedrock defenseman Zdeno Chara. His $4M cap hit for next season is very nice, yet you wonder if Boston would be dancing around mines if they pull the trigger on a deal without being confident about his long-term viability.

(It would also provide cruel comedy if they’re proactive in re-signing a 40-year-old man after waiting until training camp to sign a 21-year-old rising star.)

Boston’s defensive future is fuzzy, as they only have two blueliners (Torey Krug and Kevan Miller) locked down for three years. Everyone else is on one or two-year pacts.

There are other young players to assess, from prospects to Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano.

(Opinion: Vatrano could be in for at least a moderate breakthrough in 2017-18, so the Bruins might be wise to at least explore a cheap extension sooner rather than later. Or, you know, they could pay a lot of money for another rare, precious young scorer. That seems to be going well for them.)

***

So … yeah, the Bruins seem like a mess, at least when you take a view beyond the next season or two.

On the bright side, their best players are locked up at good-to-great rates, at least as of 2017. It’s not all bad, but you still have to wonder if management has the right vision for the future of this franchise.

Pastrnak becoming highest-paid Bruins player wouldn’t bother Marchand

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The Boston Bruins boast several veteran players who are getting paid nicely, but David Krejci leads the pack with a $7.25 million cap hit.

There’s a very, very strong chance that David Pastrnak will receive a deal that carries a larger AAV, particularly after Leon Draisaitl received an eight-year deal that carries an $8.5M cap hit.

MORE: Pastrnak is a star, so the Bruins should pay him as such.

One could picture the Bruins’ brass asking Pastrnak: “How would Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and Patrice Bergeron feel about making less than you?” After all, we’ve seen top players serve as useful “ceilings” for teammates’ paydays before; just think about how happy the Pittsburgh Penguins were to give Sidney Crosby a deal with an $8.7M cap hit.

(Yes, Evgeni Malkin makes a bit more per season, but you wonder if 87 kept 71 under the $10M threshold.)

Anyway, as persuasive as that hypothetical argument might be, Marchand told the Boston Herald’s Matt Kalman that he won’t begrudge Pastrnak if he garners a richer deal. There seems to be a “rising tides lift all boats” logic to the star-pest’s take.

“We all want to see each other be successful,” Marchand said. “He had a great year last year so we’ll be very happy for him with whatever he ends up getting. The contract that he signs, Pasta’s going to make a lot of money, he’s a phenomenal player, he’s 21 years old, he’s going to have a long career. We all like to see each other be successful and do well and that’s the way the game goes.”

Marchand, 29, probably isn’t sweating things too much right now.

While $6.125M is a bargain for a player who’s blossomed into an elite winger in the NHL, that contract runs through 2024-25, giving him long-term security. It was a nice boost from the $4.5M cap hit his previous deal carried, and it made sense for Marchand to sign at the time, particularly when you consider how dangerous his agitating style can be.

(One angry opponent could conceivably have had enough with his antics and that extension could have been in danger.)

Marchand spoke to the Boston Herald about timing with these deals, and it’s clear with Pastrnak and Draisaitl that they’re benefiting from their teams not doing the work to get their extensions done as early as possible.

In each case, those forwards took full advantage of “prove it” seasons, with some nice help from linemates such as Connor McDavid and Marchand.

Marchand might wish that his contract situation lined up a bit differently, but it would be silly of him to hold it against Pastrnak. Luckily, Marchand seems to take the same, sober stance.

Besides, if “Pasta” boils down under the pressure of a new deal, the Boston media will probably do the agitating for him.

More on Pasta talk

“No timetable” for a deal yet.

Pastrnak might want an eight-year term.

$6M per season might not cut it.

David Pastrnak is a star and the Bruins should be willing to pay him like one

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As training camps draw closer all eyes in the NHL are starting to turn to the situation in Boston where restricted free agent David Pastrnak remains unsigned.

According to general manager Don Sweeney, there is no timetable on when a deal is going to be reached and there seems to be a bit of a gap between the two sides when it comes to the type of contract Pastrnak is going to get.

The Bruins have reportedly offered a seven-year deal worth around $6 million per year, while Pastrnak would reportedly prefer a deal closer to the eight-year pact Leon Draisaitl received from the Edmonton Oilers. Given their ages and overall production to this point, as well as the market for RFA’s of that skill level, it is not a completely unreasonable ask.

There are a couple of problems for the Bruins here, and a big one is simply the optics of the situation.

The Bruins have a 21-year-old player that appears to be on the verge of stardom in the NHL. He not only can be a young, cornerstone offensive player, he already is one. They also have more than enough salary cap room to fit him in.

What keeps the Bruins from getting the benefit of the doubt in this situation (at least from this perspective) is the track record they have in dealing with young, cornerstone offensive players. They tend to toss them aside, having traded Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin and standout defenseman Dougie Hamilton all within the past 12 years (and with three different general managers completing those trades). It creates the perception that the organization as a whole doesn’t properly value high end talent and would rather trade it away — often times for pennies on the dollar — than pay market value to keep it.

The argument against paying Pastrnak a deal similar to the one Draisaitl received, for example, is that the team is paying for potential. He might not pan out. It might not be a great value.

Pastrnak at this point in his career has one monster season and a couple of half seasons where he flashed star potential.

But his production puts him in some pretty rare and special company when it comes to impact players.

Over the past 20 years there have only been 10 players that have appeared in at least 170 games and scored at least 59 goals by the end of their age 20 season: Sidney Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk, Steven Stamkos, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Skinner, Evander Kane, Jordan Staal, Vincent Lecavalier, Nathan MacKinnon and … David Pastrnak. The only player on that list that really didn’t continue on the same path that they showed early on has been Kane, and a lot of that has been due to injury and health.

What stands out about Pastrnak on that list is how little ice time it has taken him to reach that level compared to some of the others. Via Hockey-Reference.

On a per-minute basis his production is off the charts for someone his age.

Players that produce at this level at this age tend to be good enough to sustain it.

It’s not paying for potential. It’s paying for what a player will do for you instead of what a player has done for you.

The Bruins have been fortunate to get some tremendous bargains with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron over the years, and giving Pastrnak $7-8 million per season right now might look like a little bit of an overpay. But not every contract has to be below market value. Plus, if Pastrnak continues on his current path — and there is every reason to believe that he will given what he has done so far, his ability to generate shots and his possession numbers — that contract, too, could look like a bargain in the near future.