As Bruins enter important off-season, goal remains to sign Pastrnak

Watch as Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak slips the puck between Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski's legs for his 40th goal of the season.

The Boston Bruins are poised to have a potentially transformative off-season. Head coach Bruce Cassidy was just fired on Monday, stars Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy will miss the start of next season following injuries and captain Patrice Bergeron remains undecided on his own future.

All those question marks have led to some speculation about another player's future: David Pastrnak.

Will the Bruins re-sign Pastrnak — who has one year left on his contract with a $6.6 million cap hit — or use the high-scoring winger as a chip to recoup assets in a larger rebuild?

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes it will be the former.

"I believe their intention is to sign (Pastrnak)," Friedman said Tuesday on The Jeff Marek Show. "And if for whatever reason they get the impression that they can't sign him, then I think that that may change. But the initial sense I'm getting is that their goal is to sign him."

Pastrnak is coming off the second 40-goal season of his career and, since his debut in 2014-15, only eight other players have scored more than his 240 markers. At just 26, he projects to be a star in the league for a long time to come.

But for all of those reasons, he also is in line to sign a massive contract — with the Bruins or with another team in the summer of 2023. Under the terms of the CBA, the Bruins and Pastrnak's camp can't begin contract talks until July 13, when the new league year begins, but — like Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary — the situation will remain a top priority for the team until a decision is made, one way or another.

"I’ve said all along that I will attack that one as I have with all of our players that we’ve looked to go longer term on right away. We’ll see where it goes," General manager Don Sweeney said Tuesday. "David has a decision to make in that same vein... Those conversations will come to light, and we’ll have to make a decision based on the information I get."

For his part, Pastrnak has not shown any desire to leave Boston, the only NHL team he's ever known. He even recently was actively recruiting former teammate David Krejci back to the Bruins in a viral video.

"I actually haven't given it a thought yet to be honest," he said after the season when asked about the upcoming negotiations. "I've got a lot of other stuff to be worrying about the whole year, so haven't been thinking about that at all, actually."

Sweeney said the decision to part ways with Cassidy was more about finding a new voice for the players and less about entering a potential rebuild. Pastrnak's future would play a large part in whether the team can avoid going down that road.

"We're a competitive group and we're going to remain a competitive group," Sweeney said.

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