Forward David Pastrnak is ready to take on an even bigger role with the Boston Bruins following his contract situation getting settled.
Pastrnak, who was a restricted free agent, signed a six-year, $40 million contract (average annual value of $6.67 million) Thursday and is expected to report to camp Saturday.
“There will be some pressure, bigger than last year, but that’s a part of it,” said Pastrnak, 21, who spoke to reporters in Prague on Friday. “I’m curious myself to see how I’ll be able to deal with it.
“But in the end, it’s still hockey; the game I love so much. It’s beautiful to sign such contract, but it does not mean it’s over. Quite the opposite, it’s just the beginning. A great motivation to get better and better.
“My dream is to win the Stanley Cup and it did not change with the new contract.”
Pastrnak set NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (36) and points (70) in 75 games last season after he had 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) in 97 games his first two NHL seasons. He was second on the Bruins in goals and assists in the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract (Brad Marchand had 39 goals, 85 points).
“I would like to be a leader one day,” Pastrnak said. “Now I’m still young, I started in the NHL when I was 18. I came to the locker room where there were so many great leaders, great guys, and I would like to be like them one day. To become a leader for the young guys as they were for me.”
Pastrnak said he was not involved with negotiations and left it to his representatives. Even after missing the first day of Bruins camp Thursday, he was confident a deal would be struck.
“Obviously, I’m satisfied,” he said. “I can put it behind me and focus on the season. We’ve expected the way it went, we knew [the negotiations] were about to get longer. And of course we are glad that we came to an end.”
Pastrnak knows the value of his contract places him at the same level, at least financially, with some of the rising stars in the NHL who have signed similar contracts recently.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl signed an eight year, $68-million contract that was seen as a comparable for negotiations with Pastrnak, which lasted through the summer. Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg signed a six-year, $36-million contract before last season.
Pastrnak has 123 points (59 goals, 64 assists) in 172 games. Draisaitl, 21, has 137 points (50 goals, 87 assists) in 191 games; Forsberg, 23, has 191 points (91 goals, 100 assists) in 264 games.
“For me, it’s more important to get to their level hockey-wise. That is my goal,” Pastrnak said. “I haven’t given it much thought about the money when comparing myself to these players. I’m sure my agents tried the best for me and I want to be able to compare myself with those guys as hockey players, on the ice. And to be one of the best.”