There are two sides to sports, and many times it’s the business side that drives what we see in the make-up of a team’s roster. If a team doesn’t have enough money to spend, or not enough room under the salary cap, they can’t field the best lineup possible and often times come out on the short end in the standings. That in turn can hurt the business side, which continues on to the new roster, and so forth and so forth. There was a solid business argument for the Boston Bruins to send rookie forward David Pastrnak to the AHL to prevent a season of his three year entry level contract from ticking off by him not playing ten NHL games this season, but in the long run the roster side had to win out in this case.
Now it’s fairly easy to prove that Pastrnak having a great last couple weeks isn’t the sole reason the Bruins have been on a hot streak, but sending him back to the minors could very easily send the wrong kind of message to his teammates; that business wins out over winning. That absolutely will create issues in the short run and could very easily spell the end of the hot run Boston is currently on, causing them to fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Currently the Bruins are in the second slot of the two “wild card” teams to make the NHL playoffs, just five points ahead of Florida while the Panthers have three games in hand.
“I think we all want him here,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on the announcement of Pastrnak staying in the NHL for now. “I think the decision that was made was pretty unanimous as far as ‘should we keep him past the 10 game mark.’ As far I was concerned, as a coach I want him on my team and I’m sure management felt the same way.” Now we’ll ignore the “pretty unanimous” portion, which sounds a lot like being “a little pregnant”, but based on Pastrnak’s play in Providence, the World Under-20 Championships, and the NHL it should have been a no-brainer to keep him in the NHL past the ten game deadline.
Boston could still save themselves some money in the future by not having Pastrnak on the roster for 40 NHL games, and that’s certainly a possibility if his play doesn’t continue at a high enough level. If Pastrnak isn’t on the roster for 40 NHL games his first restricted free agent year is pushed out one season, in effect gaining the Bruins that extra lower cost season anyway. That would, of course, come down to how Pastrnak is playing in the NHL.
It should be noted that I have a rooting interest here, that if Pastrnak was sent to Providence it could hurt the chances of the Worcester Sharks, the AHL team I root for and cover on Sharkspage.com, of making the playoffs. But I also root for the Boston Bruins, and I am wholeheartedly convinced Pastrnak will help the Bruins far more than his chances of hurting Worcester in the AHL.
One additional thing that can’t be overlooked is Pastrnak has nothing to prove at the AHL level. In the games of his that I’ve seen he’s consistently the best player on the ice, and despite my opinion of most players benefiting from being the “big fish in a small pond” in the AHL Pastrnak really is a whale in a mud puddle in Providence. There really is only downside to his playing there, potentially seeing lesser players recalled just so Boston can save a bit of money in the future that might cause some bad blood with management, or worse, actual blood in his getting injured in the more physical minor league.
And in the end, it’s good business.