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Report: Bruins have interest in extending Zdeno Chara

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The Boston Bruins made news Thursday, signing restricted free agent forward David Pastrnak to a contract extension. There was also another nugget of information to come from Don Sweeney’s meeting with the media.

According to Joe Haggerty of CSN New England, the Bruins have interest in a contract extension for defenseman Zdeno Chara, and there have been discussions between the team’s general manager and its captain.

Chara turned 40 years old in March and has 1,350 regular season games under his belt, not to mention almost 150 playoff games. He also has one year remaining on his seven-year, $45 million contract, which, according to CapFriendly, has a cap hit of $4 million for the upcoming season.

Chara has been a beast for the Bruins for many years, imposing his will on opposing forwards and putting up impressive offensive numbers on numerous occasions throughout his career. Last season, he led all Boston players in overall ice time and time on the penalty kill — both by a sizable margin.

But he’s only getting older, which raises the discussion about whether he can still handle such a significant workload going forward, especially if he does return beyond this season. The Bruins also have defensemen like Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy who could be ready to take on even more responsibility on the blue line.

“It’s something that probably management has to think about and make a decision on that,” Chara told NESN in April. “I’ve said many times I want to play and would like to play beyond this contract. I want to still be very effective and still want to get better and improve and maintain my game and keep adding to my game.”

Bruins sign David Pastrnak to six-year, $40M deal

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The Bruins have finally found a way to get restricted free agent David Pastrnak under contract, Boston confirmed.

Pastranak new contract is reportedly for six years and $40 million (annual average value of $6.67 million). That makes him third highest paid forward on the team behind David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, but slightly ahead of Brad Marchand, who makes $6.125 million per season.

The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout season last year, as he accumulated 34 goals and 70 points in 75 games.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty is reporting that the two sides tried to come to terms on a seven or eight-year contract, but they just couldn’t get the numbers to work. The assumption is that Pastrnak would’ve wanted more money on a longer contract because it would eat into his free agent years.

Pastrnak, who is currently in the Czech Republic, will miss the first couple of days of training camp. He’s expected to fly into Boston tomorrow and be back on the ice with his teammates by the weekend.

Reports: Pastrnak to miss start of Bruins’ camp, ‘KHL threat is always there’

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Let’s start with the lighter bad news for the Boston Bruins regarding David Pastrnak before we get pessimistic imaginations rolling too much.

Even if the two sides hammer out that much-belabored new contract before training camp officially begins, Pastrnak will reportedly miss at least a small chunk of it. The reasoning is simple, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston and others report: Pastrnak is currently still in the Czech Republic.

Now let’s sandwich some positive vibes in between the dread: Johnston and TSN’s Darren Dreger both report that the two sides have been negotiating under a variety of circumstances, including different potential terms for a possible contract. There’s even this to get happy about:

Dreger giveth and Dreger taketh away, as he followed it up with quite the doomsday scenario:

*Needs to sit down for a minute.*

The 2018 Winter Olympics present a wrinkle in a lot of these proceedings. As much as the KHL feels like a pure leverage threat during most summers, there really is something to be said for a player potentially making comparable money overseas and getting a chance to represent their country.

And, without official NHL representation, there’s the increased odds of Pastrnak bringing home a medal of some kind.

That’s not a bad Plan B, though you’d think that Pastrnak would still prefer – probably vastly prefer – signing a lengthy deal with the Bruins. It’s difficult to overstate the lure of that security, not to mention playing in the best league in the world.

So, in the grand scheme of things, this should work out for the Bruins, even if they suffer from some sticker shock. Management sure is adding an uncomfortable layer of drama to these proceedings, however.

More Pasta

Brad Marchand wouldn’t mind if Pastrnak became the Bruins’ highest-paid player.

Pastrnak is a star, so the Bruins should pay him like one.

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.

Malcolm Subban ready to compete for Bruins’ backup goalie job

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The Boston Bruins have a pretty wide open competition for the No. 2 goaltending job behind starter Tuukka Rask.

Competing for that spot are Anton Khudobin, the player that held that position for most of last season, Zane McIntyre, and 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban.

From the time he was drafted Subban was thought to be the future of the position in Boston but his stock seems to have dropped a bit in recent seasons and he now finds himself in danger of being passed over on the organizational depth chart. He spent the 2016-17 season in Providence where he split time with McIntyre, with McIntyre getting the better of the play, finishing with a .930 save percentage in 31 games (to a .917 save percentage for Subban in 32 games).

“I believe I can play,” Subban said this past week, via the Boston Herald. “I know my talent better than anyone else and I believe I can play. I want to come in to camp and prove that. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. Everyone in camp believes they can play or else they wouldn’t be here. I’m just trying to prove I can play in the NHL, or get an opportunity at least.”

Throughout his pro career Subban has posted okay numbers in the American Hockey, but nothing that really jumps off the page. He has only appeared in two NHL games with both of them ending badly for him, allowing a total of six goals on 22 shots in his two appearances. The most recent appearance came during the 2016-17 season when he allowed three goals on only six shots in an ugly loss to the Minnesota Wild.

The Bruins re-signed Subban — along with McIntyre — to a two-year contract this summer.

Solidifying the backup goalie spot should be a pretty big priority for the Bruins because it was a major sore spot during the 2016-17 season.

Even though his production has slipped a bit in recent seasons Rask can still be a top tier starting goalie in the NHL. But he has been counted on to carry a massive workload due to the lack of quality play behind him.

The Bruins managed to win just seven games last season when Rask did not start, while his backups managed to post a miserable .888 save percentage.

A capable backup that can give Rask a bit of a break during the season will not only give the Bruins a better chance to win when he is not in the lineup, it might also help improve his play simply because he would not be run into the ground.