Brad Marchand is going to get paid.
That fact is, barring a monumental collapse or major injury, a foregone conclusion. At 28, the pesky winger just put forth the best season of his career — finishing sixth in the NHL with 37 goals, earning a spot Canada’s World Cup team — and is heading into the last of a four-year, $18 million deal with a team-friendly $4.5 million cap hit.
So yeah, Marchand’s going to get a raise.
How big of a raise, of course, is the important question.
Reports suggest Marchand’s initial ask is a seven-year deal worth $49 million, one that carries a $7M average annual value. That payday would put him on par with the likes of Vancouver’s Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and St. Louis’ Paul Stastny — and, most interestingly, ahead of fellow B’s forward Patrice Bergeron (who makes $6.875 million through 2022.)
At first glance, $7 million annually for Marchand might seem like a stretch.
Part of that could be due to the fact that he’s a unique player, and a somewhat difficult one to define. He’s been a consistently good goalscorer, but last year he emerged as one of the league’s best. He’s also been remarkably durable over his seven-year career, rarely missing games.
But he does miss games.
And often because he’s forced to.
Marchand’s earned a reputation as one of the league’s, ahem, less gentlemanly players, and has paid the price with a myriad of punishments:
— March 2011: Suspended two games for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head.
— December 2011: Fined for slew-footing Matt Niskanen.
— January 2012: Suspended five games for clipping Sami Salo.
— January 2015: Suspended two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard.
— November 2015: Fined for roughing Gabriel Landeskog.
— December 2015: Suspended three games for clipping Mark Borowiecki.
(There was also the incident in Vancouver in 2013, when he taunted the Canucks by pretending to raise the Stanley Cup and kissing his ring finger. Those antics drew the ire of head coach Claude Julien, who said “sometimes [Marchand’s] emotions get the better of him.”)
(There was also that time Brandon Prust was fined $5K for spearing Marchand in the groin, which Prust said was the best money he ever spent.)
The sheer length of Marchand’s rap sheet — and the fact three of his offenses came within the last 18 months — suggests there are probably more disciplinary issues to come. But don’t expect that to give Bruins GM Don Sweeney much pause. He and Julien realize Marchand’s effectiveness is partly due to toeing the line between aggressiveness and recklessness, and his Bruins teammates appreciate what he brings to the table.
But will Sweeney really pay Marchand more than Bergeron?
On the surface, it would seem a bit strange. Without getting into all the cliched and syrupy narratives, it has to be said that Bergeron is, in a lot of ways, the anti-Marchand. Bergeron is quiet. Bergeron is stoic. Bergeron is widely presumed to be the team’s captain once Zdeno Chara moves on. Bergeron is admired by his peers, and receives a handful of Lady Byng votes nearly every season.
Boston’s financial structure, though, would (theoretically) allow for Marchand to make elite-level money. Remember that Chara’s $6.9 million cap hit comes off the books in 2018, and one would have to assume a good chunk of that is being reserved for No. 63.
And if there was any doubt about the organization’s feelings for Marchand, Sweeney essentially nullified them earlier this summer, confirming to WEEI that he envisions Marchand being in Boston for the long haul.
“I’ve identified March as a core guy, and we want to continue down that path,” Sweeney said. “It always takes two sides to make a deal, and I would envision that he’d like to be part of this organization for what could be arguably his whole career.”