There are certain rival players throughout the history of the Philadelphia Flyers that just seem to have their number. They’re affectionately known as “Flyers killers” and in the modern game there are few as dangerous as Boston Bruins’ forward David Pastrnak. In the last two seasons alone he’s recorded three hat tricks against the Flyers and a total of 10 goals and 14 points in seven contests.
Pastrnak, who is going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, seemingly may want out of Boston sooner than that. The Bruins are on the verge of a potential rebuild and after firing head coach Bruce Cassidy and potentially losing Patrice Bergeron to retirement, as well as a string of injuries that led to offseason surgeries on the blueline that will hurt them at the start of next season.
If the Bruins feel as though they don’t have a chance to re-sign the 26-year-old forward, who is coming off a six-year, $40 million contract, or Pastrnak himself makes it known he wants out, Boston will either have to trade him or potentially lose a star-caliber player for nothing in free agency next offseason.
Pastrnak isn’t just a Flyers killer, he basically dominates every team in the league. He scored 40 goals and 77 points in 72 games in 2021, the second time in the last three seasons he’s hit the 40-goal plateau, and the fifth time overall he’s scored more than 30 goals. He’s got 240 goals and 504 points in 510 career games. He’s been a consistent offensive threat in all eight of his NHL seasons.
So how does a team even go about acquiring somebody of Pastrnak’s caliber? It certainly won’t be cheap or easy. Just about every team in the league will be interested in his services. If the Bruins give the green light to trade, it will probably because they will enter some level of rebuilding phase, meaning a deal will probably be based on picks and prospects.
There’ almost no chance this deal would happen before the 2022 entry draft, meaning the Flyers’ fifth overall pick won’t be in play, though theoretically, they could offer whoever they draft with that pick.
The Flyers do have their 2023 first round pick, as well as two picks in the first round of 2024, their own, and the Florida Panthers’ first they acquired in the Claude Giroux trade.
In the short term, if he gets dealt during the 2022 offseason, the Flyers will have to make room for the last year of his $6.6 million contract. They could deal Kevin Hayes, who is a Boston native making $7.1 million for four more years. He’s got a modified no-trade clause, but he would probably waive to go to his hometown team, and for the Bruins, they’re going to need a center and a new potential fan favorite if Bergeron retires.
The Bruins are lacking pretty much everywhere in their prospect pool. They have a relatively young NHL defensive corps but an aging forward group, so let’s run with the assumption that they would want a forward-prospect driven return.
Tyson Foerster was the Flyers’ 2020 first round pick and has already gotten his feet wet in the AHL thanks to the pandemic. His 2021-22 season came to an early end with the Phantoms thanks to a shoulder injury. He posted 12 goals and 20 points in 33 games in two seasons with the Phantoms. He’s atop the Flyers’ prospect pool at the moment, and his size at 6’2 and 195lbs plus scoring touch makes him an attractive player to base a rebuild around.
21-year-old Bobby Brink, who was a standout star at the University of Denver signed an NHL contract late in the 2021-22 season and posted four assists in 10 games before the end of the season. He didn’t seem out of place at the NHL level in his short stint with the big club after winning a national championship with Denver just a week earlier. He’d still be a gamble, but he’d be an NHL-ready 21-year-old who may be able to contribute meaningful offense sooner rather than later, a key in any rebuild.
A pair of first round picks, one in 2023, and whichever would be lower in 2024, a condition often attached for teams that have multiple picks in a certain round, could be the thing that truly entices Boston.
Is Kevin Hayes, Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink and 2023 and 2024 first round picks enough? It’s a pretty decent package for a team that may have their backs against the wall. There’s a chance most teams that aren’t slam dunk postseason locks are going to be weary about giving up their 2023 first round pick given the potential star power it may unlock on draft day next year, so it could be the thing that pushes the Flyers over the limit to winning the Pastrnak sweepstakes.
Does Boston part with their star forward? It sure seems like his days wearing gold and black are coming to an end in the near future one way or another. As a recently turned 26-year-old, he’d be right in the age range the Flyers are aiming for and with offensive talent out the wazoo, he may be the piece to single-handedly lift the Flyers out of the funk they’re trapped in offensively. Pastrnak is one of the few players that is worth matching just about any price the Bruins could ask for.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com