Deadlines cause anxiety, but there are also times when they come in handy.
Perhaps the looming threat of a salary arbitration hearing would be a blessing in disguise for the Boston Bruins and rising star forward David Pastrnak?
Instead, the 21-year-old remains an RFA, and Bruins GM Don Sweeney told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty that talks aren’t exactly moving along that quickly right now.
There are plenty of instances where RFA negotiations drag into the regular season itself, and that would be a pretty significant concern for the Bruins, who seem like they’re headed for a battle to make the playoffs again in 2017-18.
Pastrnak enjoyed an explosive 2016-17 campaign, scoring 34 goals and a resounding 70 points in 75 regular-season contests. There were flashes of brilliance as he averaged about 14 minutes per night in about a half season’s work in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, but he really took off when given a full chance.
Perhaps a “bridge” deal would be easier for both sides, yet the Bruins might be wise to try to lock him up long-term now, particularly if he’d do so at a reasonable price. (Viktor Arvidsson‘s deal would probably stand as the dream scenario.)
It should be a fascinating situation to watch, at least if it ever advances beyond what sounds like a snail-like pace at the moment.
The Boston Bruins have appointed Jay Leach as head coach of the Providence Bruins.
Leach, 37, replaces Kevin Dean, who was promoted earlier this offseason to work alongside Bruce Cassidy in Boston.
Leach, a former NHL defenseman who spent most of his pro career in the AHL, was an assistant coach last season in Providence. He joined the B’s organization last summer after a year spent as an assistant for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Bruins also announced that Spencer Carbery has been hired to assist Leach in Providence, and that Mike Dunham has been hired as Goaltender Development Coach.
Related: Fred Brathwaite joins Islanders as goalie coach
Assuming he does not sign with the Colorado Avalanche — and it appears as if he will not — 2017 Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher will be a highly sought after target on the open market when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on August 15. His agent has already said he would listen to an offer from the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, while teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings figure to be interested.
Pretty much every team could use a young, puck-moving presence on its blue line.
On Saturday, CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty argued that the Bruins should not be one of the teams interested in making a play for the 22-year-old rearguard even though the team has a need for a left shot on its blue line.
What the Bruins don’t need is another undersized, unproven youngster on their back end while 21-year-old Brandon Carlo enters his second full NHL season, and 20-year-old McAvoy readies for his first full pro hockey season in Boston. Instead, they really could have used a battle-tested, grizzled veteran D-man on the left side capable of being an on-ice tutor as McAvoy’s D-partner this season, and that’s what they were unsuccessfully looking for via free agency or trade earlier this summer.
He also mentions the collection of prospects knocking on the door as leaving little room.
Even with all of that, the Bruins were one of the first teams I thought of when it came to potential landing spots for Butcher. Due to the exits of long-time veterans like Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg in recent years, the trade of Dougie Hamilton, and the fact that Zdeno Chara is closer to the end of his career than his peak their defense has taken a pretty significant fall in recent seasons and gone from being its greatest strength to, at times, its biggest weakness.
To be fair, the emergence of Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as young players on that defense gives them a lot of hope for the future, and Torey Krug has become a tremendous point-producer on the back end. Adding a prospect like Butcher to that group would give them a pretty strong collection of young, cheap puck-movers, and that isn’t a bad way to try and win in today’s NHL. After all, the team that just won the past two Stanley Cups wasn’t exactly full of rugged, battle-tested veterans.
Basically, the Bruins shouldn’t let the fact they already have some prospects in the system and similar players on the roster prevent them from taking a shot at adding a player like Butcher. Not all of your prospects are going to pan out and you can never really have too much talent. And when you have a chance to add a talented young player for practically nothing it is a possibility that is always worth exploring.
Heading into today’s arbitration hearing, Ryan Spooner was reportedly looking for a $3.85 million dollar deal. On the other side of this equation, the Bruins were only willing to offer $2 million.
With that kind of gap, it seemed almost certain that this dispute would be settled by an arbitrator, but the two sides have reportedly met somewhere in the middle, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Friedman is reporting that the two sides have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a deal worth $2.825 million.
Update: The Bruins confirmed the signing and financial details.
Spooner finished last season with 11 goals and 39 points in 78 games. The 25-year-old scored two less goals and 10 less points in 2016-17 than he did the previous year.
There’s no doubt that he has plenty of offensively ability, but consistency in his own end has always been an issue (just ask former head coach Claude Julien).
If Spooner can put it all together this season, he’ll be able to earn a much bigger pay day next summer.
Ryan Donato, taken 56th overall by Boston at the ’14 draft, should be excited for his upcoming junior campaign at Harvard. He’s coming off a 21-goal, 40-point effort as a sophomore and recently showed well at the Bruins’ summer development camp.
What’s more, Donato will have the dangling carrot of potential free agency once the year is done. Should he go back to play for the Crimson the following year and complete his senior season, he could then pick and choose his NHL team — not unlike what another ex-Harvard standout, Jimmy Vesey, did to land with the Rangers.
Just one catch — Donato has zero interest in that.
“I understand [the Vesey option], but I don’t think it’s applicable to me in my situation,” Donato said, per CSNNE. “Growing up in Boston I’ve always been a Bruins fan, and I’ve been very happy and fortunate to a part of this [organization] and hopefully I can be for a while.
“Obviously, I had loyalty even before given that I was a fan, but you really feel like you do owe the organization something after they’ve drafted you.”
Donato is the son of longtime NHLer Ted Donato, a Boston native who also went to Harvard — and later coached there, including Ryan’s freshman season in ’15-16. Ted also played over 500 of his 796 career NHL contests for the Bruins, so there are some serious family ties at play.
Donato’s future in Boston feels like a slam dunk. But that said, the B’s aren’t immune to college players toying with the idea of free agency. This summer, GM Don Sweeney had to put in serious work to sign Anders Bjork, the Notre Dame standout that was contemplating a return to South Bend for his senior campaign.