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The Mass Media

Bruins Are Playing A Dangerous Game With Pastrnak

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Bruins Are Playing A Dangerous Game With Pastrnak

If there is one thing that is of high value in professional sports, it is having young talent on your roster. It doesn’t matter if you are already winning championships or trying to get your way out of finishing last in your league, young talent provides any team in any sport with clarity for both the present and the future because you know where your team is and where your team wants to go.
The Boston Bruins, who will be fighting for a playoff spot this season, have a lot of young talent mixed in with a skilled veteran core. Bruins fans became optimistic last season because the team took a step forward, especially after young phenom David Pastrnak became consistent in his game as he posted his first 30-goal season. However, Boston’s future has become clouded, as Pastrnak’s contract situation continues to loom over the team heading into training camp.
Last season, the Bruins finished third in the Atlantic Division, which sent them to the playoffs, and in turn, reignited a fan base that had suffered through the team missing the playoffs two years in a row. A big part of placing third was the play by long time Boston fan-favorite, Brad Marchand, and the breakout campaign of third-year pro Pastrnak.
After progressing to the NHL much faster than expected, Pastrnak scored 10 goals and 27 points in his rookie campaign, and then 15 goals with 26 points in his sophomore season. However, in the 2016-17 season Pastrnak exploded for 34 goals and 70 points. Luckily for him, this was the year that he was heading into restricted free agency, meaning that other teams could opt to give him an offer sheet and surrender draft picks to the Bruins. However, Boston had the right to match any offer another team could make.
It is a rare occurrence for other NHL teams to get players in this way, but it does happen. However, the real threat to the Bruins comes in the form of the Kontinental Hockey League, or KHL. Since Pastrnak is not under contract, his restricted free agency does not allow him to play with another NHL club without going through the offer sheet process. It does not, however, restrict him from playing in another league. Pastrnak could theoretically leave the National Hockey League all together and play in the KHL. This has become a very popular trend, particularly among European players. This move has been made with several high-profile players such as Jaromir Jagr in 2008, Alexander Radulov both in 2008 and again in 2012, and most notably Ilya Kovalchuk retired after signing the largest contract in NHL history so that he could go play in the KHL.
The moral of the story here is that the Bruins are clearly playing with fire. They are messing around with a young kid that they quite honestly need to be part of their future. If he were to leave it would be the fourth time since 2009 that Boston had lost a young, talented player that could be part of their core. It is time for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely to stop playing hardball and pay a young talent that is actually willing to commit to this franchise long term.
If Pastrnak does in fact leave the NHL, it will be time to seriously question if the Bruins front office understands how to treat players not named Bergeron, Chara, or Marchand. There is no more Peter Chiarelli to blame for this one. The fate of this rests on the shoulders of Neely, the only common denominator left between now and the Chiarelli regime. Sometimes you need to pay talent, and Pastrnak proved last season that he should be a part of this team for the long term. The Bruins simply cannot afford to not have Pastrnak, or they risk moving back into the clouded and murky state that is an aging roster, with very few assets to speak of.