If David Pastrnak is serious about playing this season in the KHL, shame on him.
Speculation has surfaced in recent days that the Bruins’ restricted free agent, unsigned and seemingly far apart from management on a new contract with training camp opening today, may ditch the team and go play in the Kontinental Hockey League in Eastern Europe and Asia.
For Bruins fans, teammates and management, what an astonishing betrayal that would be.
At the age of 21, with three seasons and 172 games on his NHL resume (plus six postseason games), Pastrnak has earned the respect of his team and the affection of fans, who see a kid with not just tons of skill, but also a lovable personality and infectious enthusiasm for the game.
So now, what, it’s only about money for Pastrnak?
Latvian scout/agent Aivis Kalnins launched the current speculation with his tweet Monday that said, “Rumblings have indicated that Pastrnak could play in the KHL this season. Has multiple offers.”
Allow us to be crystal clear up front: The Bruins have made Pastrnak an extremely fair, even generous, contract offer. They’re believed to be ready to hand him a deal for six or seven years, at $6 million per year.
The team used Nashville forward Filip Forsberg as its main “comparable” for Pastrnak. In June, the 23-year-old Forsberg inked a new six-year deal, paying $6 million per year. This came after Forsberg, in three full NHL seasons, scored 26, 33 and 31 goals.
In his three seasons, Pastrnak has produced 10, 15 and 34 goals. Forsberg has had three good years; Pastrnak has had one.
A worthy argument can be made that Pastrnak doesn’t even deserve the same money that Forsberg got; he hasn’t proven as much as the Predators’ winger.
Yet Pastrnak’s idea of the proper comparable restricted free agent is Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who last month was handed an astonishing bonanza by Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli: Eight years at $8.5 million per year.
Draisaitl, take note, also has played three NHL seasons. One was poor (2-7—9 in 37 games in 2014-15), one was pretty good (19-32—51 in 72 games in ’15-16) and one was very good (29-48—77 in 82 games last year.)
Chiarelli was willing to grossly overpay Draisaitl. That’s his problem. But it can’t mean that grotesque number is now the standard for every talented kid just past his teen years and his entry-level contract, and still in the process of establishing as the kind of NHL player he’s going to be.
These crazy “second…