5 Dream Landing Spots for Bruins Forward David Pastrnak
These are trying times in Boston.
Not only have the Bruins not won a Stanley Cup in 11 years, but they've also gradually slid backward from near-misses in 2013 and 2019 to an inglorious first-round exit this spring.
Coach Bruce Cassidy was behind the bench for the most recent Cup final three years ago and hadn't missed the playoffs in six seasons, but was nevertheless let go this week amid reports his approach didn't work well with younger players.
The dismissal immediately fueled speculation that one of the team's cornerstone pieces, 26-year-old winger David Pastrnak, would be next in line to leave, as general manager Don Sweeney concedes the contention window is closed and goes all-in on a roster rebuild.
Pastrnak has a year remaining on a $40 million pact he signed in 2017. He could be an attractive trade piece given his age, expiring contract and point-per-game production across each of the past four seasons, including a career-best 48 goals in 2019-20.
The B/R hockey team looked at the volatile situation and considered some of the dreamiest possible destinations for Pastrnak, whose 504 points in eight seasons are second-best on the Bruins in that timeframe and 23rd-best across the entire NHL.
Scroll through to see what we came up with and leave a thought or two of your own in the comments section.
The Anaheim Ducks were the NHL's 10th-best team from opening night through New Year's Day, so it's not hard to understand why optimism exists for 2022-23.
And because the Ducks were the league's third-worst team from January 2 through the end of the season, it's equally easy to see why changes still need to be made.
Newly hired GM Pat Verbeek has a flood of young talent in the organizational pipeline, 11 draft picks in Rounds 1 and 2 across the next three seasons and better than $39 million in salary-cap space available to fill out next season's roster.
If he's looking for an elite player like Pastrnak to round out what he's already got in-house, he's got plenty of assets to put together an enticing offer.
And given the amount of flux likely coming on rosters across the Pacific Division this summer, it's not inconceivable to think adding Pastrnak translates to a playoff berth next year.
Call this one a conditional destination.
The Calgary Flames finished third in the Western Conference, first in the Pacific Division and reached the second round of the playoffs with a roster highlighted by established stars.
Johnny Gaudreau scored 40 goals and had 115 points, and Matthew Tkachuk was only slightly off that prodigious pace with 42 goals and 104 points of his own.
But neither is guaranteed to still be in Alberta's largest city come October.
Gaudreau just completed the last season of a six-year, $40.5 million deal and is one of the league's most-coveted free agents, while Tkachuk is a restricted free agent who's arbitration eligible, due a $9 million qualifying offer and has been rumored as a trade piece.
Losing either or both would obviously be a big blow to a would-be Cup contender, but it would also provide a clear mandate to bring in a talent like Pastrnak to maintain high competitive standards. If Gaudreau goes, expect Sweeney to be GM Brad Treliving's first call.
If you can't beat them, join them.
And if they can't beat someone else without you, they'll come looking.
The Carolina Hurricanes ended Pastrnak's 2022 postseason with a seven-game defeat of the Bruins in the first round, but they went on to manage just 13 goals in a subsequent series with the New York Rangers en route to a disappointing seven-game elimination.
It came after a regular season in which Carolina was third overall in the league standings and first in the Metropolitan Division. However, the Hurricanes only averaged 3.38 goals per game—ninth-best among the 16 playoff teams.
The bitter taste of an 11.1 percent success rate on the power play against New York should linger with Carolina into summer. However, it's something that could be addressed by acquiring an ace like Pastrnak, who had 15 goals on the power play last season and netted 20 two seasons ago.
Carolina has five forwards and a defenseman aged 25 or younger and better than $19 million in available cap space, so sending young talent to Boston in exchange for getting Pastrnak's expiring contract off the books is a possibility if GM Don Waddell wants to shake things up.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings play home games about 30 miles from Anaheim, and Southern California geography isn't the only similarity between the franchises.
The Kings ended a three-season playoff drought thanks to a third-place finish in the Pacific Division, and even though the stay yielded a disappointing seven-game loss to the Edmonton Oilers, there's no shortage of positivity thanks to a highly ranked pool of prospects.
To suggest Los Angeles could contend for a division title next season isn't ridiculous.
Twenty-five-year-old center Adrian Kempe led a cadre of young forwards already on the NHL level with a breakout 35-goal season in 2021-22, and the addition of Pastrnak would round out that group with an established veteran still producing at an elite level.
The $20 million in cap space the Kings now possess makes the financial side a little easier to figure out, and they have a full complement of draft picks for the next three seasons from which to make an offer, too. Book the cross-country flight and buy in on L.A.'s future.
New Jersey Devils
First things first, the Stanley Cup is probably not coming to New Jersey next season.
The Devils were seventh in an eight-team Metropolitan Division in 2021-22 and just fifth from the bottom of the league.
But it's not all bad news.
They have a roster dotted with emerging talents and $25 million in cap space, not to mention a recent lottery move that bumped them up to the No. 2 pick in this summer's draft. The farm system pipeline remains full, too, ranking fourth overall, according to The Athletic.
Additionally, New Jersey has 23 draft picks on its board over the next three years.
GM Tom Fitzgerald hasn't been averse to swinging for the fences for proven commodities, as evidenced by his signing of free agent Dougie Hamilton (seven years, $63 million) from Carolina last summer.
The $9 million that's been going annually to defenseman P.K. Subban comes off the books this summer, meaning there's ample room to bring another star into the fold if Pastrnak isn't averse to making the transition from Boston to Newark.