It’s been a slow summer for RFAs. Many notable players from around the league remain unsigned, including breakout stars from last season Leon Draisaitl, Alexander Wennberg and David Pastrnak. The long negotiations between these players and their teams are almost surely linked to the nature of their success last year, potential lockout-proofing, and waiting for the first deal to be signed. Agents love using precedence and comparables, and the lack of high profile RFA signings makes it less likely that mutually agreeable terms are presented.
Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins is one of the more interesting RFAs in this year’s class. Among active NHLers, he ranks 13th in total points scored before turning 21, and is 3rd in G/GP as a 20 year old. His closest comparables are a handful of the league’s best young forwards including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nathan MacKinnon, Jeff Skinner, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Duchene. Pastrnak put up 34 goals and 70 points as a 20 year old in Boston last year playing alongside premier forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He flourished in a top line role and looks to be the next face of the Boston Bruins. Unless he isn’t. Earlier this week, rumours started to swirl around Pastrnak, with highly connected NHL sources claiming there might be a trade brewing.
The Los Angeles Kings have been linked to Pastrnak, but if he truly is available, it’s almost a guarantee that Don Sweeney has been fielding calls from all 30 other GMs. Because of the Calgary Flames’ lack of depth on the right wing, and being located in the western conference, Pastrnak is a very intriguing name. Calgary and Boston have a history of making trades in the last few years, maybe it’s possible there’s another one in the works. Imagine if Brad Treliving could once again sway Don Sweeney into making another mistake. Pastrnak sure looks appealing penciled in next to Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
What might it cost the Flames to make such a move? In 2015, it cost the Flames just 3 draft picks to acquire Hamilton. This time around, the Flames’ don’t have the same bargaining power after leveraging picks to acquire Mike Smith, Eddie Lack, and Travis Hamonic in the offseason. But let’s examine both teams and find out what a trade for Pastrnak might look like.
On Boston’s Side
After losing Pastrnak, the Bruins depth chart shows several key weaknesses. The first is among their forwards. Boston would likely want a proven top 6 forward to replace Pastrnak’s elite scoring ability. They would probably ask for a player who has a scoring touch, can play on the powerplay, and can get to the dirty areas of the ice. This is Boston we’re talking about, they’ll covet a guy who can play Bruins hockey. Parting with a dynamic young forward is difficult, but as the Bruins’ core ages, Boston will definitely need a young forward back who can play now.
Another weakness lies in their defense. While there is good talent with players like Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo, their defense corps looks awfully thin. After relying on Zdeno Chara to anchor their blueline for over a decade, the Bruins will be anxious to add a high level defender as well.
On Calgary’s Side
As discussed earlier, Calgary sorely lacks draft pick assets to use in trades after spending them in a series of offseason moves. That being said, the Flames’ prospect pool is arguably richer than it’s ever been, and they could easily send a prospect or two back to Boston in a trade. One player who seems like a perfect fit here is Sam Bennett.
An unsigned RFA as well, Bennett has struggled to find his groove in Calgary but carries a high pedigree and sky high potential. Bennett is a true top 6 forward who can score, make plays, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in the process. He would not have to change anything about his game to fit into Bruins hockey culture, and would be given ample opportunity to shine beside stars like Bergeron and Marchand.
While it’s been noted that the Flames lack depth on the wing, they are arguably the deepest on defense. To acquire a player like Pastrnak, Calgary will surely have to part ways with one of their best defensive prospects. This could be Rasmus Andersson, Adam Fox, Oliver Kylington, or newly drafted Juuso Valimaki; all of whom are poised to enter the NHL in the next 2-3 years.
- Calgary – Sam Bennett, Oliver Kylington, 2019 First Round Pick
- Boston – David Pastrnak
This may seem like a lot to give up, but Pastrnak is going to be an elite NHL scorer. That being said, if contract negotiations are turning sour and the Bruins don’t have the cap space to keep him because they chose to give David Backes way too much money, they should act now. On top of that, they haven’t hesitated to send budding talent packing in the past either.
David Pastrnak probably isn’t going anywhere. He’ll probably sign a long term deal with the Bruins, make lots of money, and score lots of goals over the next 6-8 years. But if they were to deal him like they did Seguin, Kessel, and Hamilton, they would want a serious haul in return. From a Flames perspective, I’d be inclined to accept this deal if it was proposed but maybe that means the price should be higher. If Sweeney wants more, perhaps the Flames can throw in a day with the Stanley Cup next summer. Do you think the Flames should be in on Pastrnak? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @wincolumnblog!