Bruins must sort out Pastrnak deal before deciding on Stafford

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Whatever interest the Boston Bruins might have in Drew Stafford, the reality is that they have bigger fish to fry.

The Boston Herald reports that Bruins GM Don Sweeney “remains in contact” with Stafford, but they can’t go forward with a veteran addition until after they know where bigger-ticket items pan out.

To be more precise, Sweeney must figure out how much it will cost to retain RFAs Ryan Spooner and (especially) David Pastrnak. Spooner ranked among the players who filed for salary arbitration, while Pastrnak is the sort of scorer who has made an impact essentially since day one with the Bruins, peaking with a 36-goal, 70-point output in 2016-17.

The Bruins are likely mulling over a “bridge” deal or a longer commitment to Pastrnak, yet either way, it’s a key situation for the franchise’s future.

MORE: No timetable for a Pastrnak deal

As WEEI.com noted back in late June, Stafford made it clear that it’s his “100 percent” preference to return to the Bruins. That said, he also seemed to realize that he might not be the team’s highest priority, even after being a helpful addition at the trade deadline.

“On the business side of things, with the way they work out, I know it’s not always in your control,” Stafford said. “But if there is an offer that they’re willing to deal, they can talk to my agent, because I’d love to be back.”

After struggling to just 13 points in 40 games with Winnipeg, Stafford found a new burst in Boston, generating four goals and eight points in 18 games. The veteran winger also managed two goals during Boston’s six-game series versus Ottawa.

Those aren’t the sort of numbers that will kick down doors for the 31-year-old, but they might just help him land another NHL job, perhaps in his ideal spot.

Unfortunately for Stafford, his options may otherwise be quite limited.