It’s amazing how player contracts are viewed differently from sport to sport, even in the same town.
Malcolm Butler has been an elite cornerback and helped deliver two Super Bowl titles for the better part of two-plus seasons, and many think the Patriots are doing the right thing making him play for the restricted tender this season.
Over with the Bruins, David Pastrnak has finished his entry-level contract and could be a restricted free agent for another four seasons. Despite his disappointing postseason in a winnable series against the Senators, there’s no talk of making Pasta play for his qualifying offer, the NHL equivalent of an RFA tender.
Nope. The belief is that Pastrnak and the Bruins will reach some sort of extension in short order, perhaps some time after the team and Ryan Spooner have their arbitration hearing on his contract Wednesday. At that point, the Bruins will know Spooner’s situation, how it affects the cap and what other minor moves they can or can’t make as a result, and then get Pastrnak locked up. Or maybe, the Bruins are just being cheap (they’ve certainly been accused of that before).
Look, I’m not begrudging Pastrnak. He deserves it. Pastrnak has done everything the Bruins have asked, including getting stronger to win more puck battles, and he exploded this past season, going from 15 goals and 26 points, to 34 and 70. Yes, it would have been better had Pastrnak asserted himself in the postseason against the Senators (and not committed that egregious penalty in overtime of the deciding Game 6), but we all know where this is going: the kid has star written all over him.
This isn’t Phil Kessel or Dougie Hamilton, who didn’t want to be here and couldn’t wait to leave. This isn’t even Tyler Seguin, who before blossoming in Dallas was viewed as a bit of a problem child prior to his fateful and forgettable trade out of town.
Pastrnak and the Bruins, from all appearances, appear to be perfect together. Pastrnak wants to be here and is a willing player and teammate. He’s a 30-goal (at least) scorer who can help David Krejci regain his status as a borderline No. 1 center. Every year we’ve seen Pastrnak’s desire to get better and realize his potential.
It would seem to be foolish to mess with a good thing by tossing in a contract dispute that could ruin everything.
Pastrnak is young, hungry and seems poised to take the next step if he feels the warmth of a little contract security. Expect the Bruins to give it to him. Good thing for Pastrnak, this isn’t the NFL.