Should the Devils Pursue David Pastrňák?

It's no secret that the Devils have a potentially dynamic offense for years to come. With the likes of Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, Yegor Sharangovich, Dawson Mercer and Alexander Holtz, there's no telling what this team can do offensively. However, you're always looking to improve your roster and take your team to the next level. The Devils swung and missed on landing the top free agent winger in Johnny Gaudreau after he spurred New Jersey for Columbus.


However, there will be a crop ton of scoring talent on the market in 2023. One in particular is not only one of the top goal-scorers in the league, but a young superstar in his prime. This man has scored 30-plus goals in 5 of his last 6 seasons, has won the 2019-20 Maurice Richard Trophy winner, a 2-time All Star, an All Star Game MVP, 12 career hat tricks and just over 500 points at just the age of 26. That man is the guy they call, "Pasta". That player is David Pastrňák .





David Pastrňák is entering the final year of his 6-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Boston Bruins in 2017/18. He is due to get a massive pay rise and even become one of, if not the highest, paid player in the NHL starting in 2023. This especially due to the amount that Johnny Gaudreau got this past free agency. It's very important that the Boston Bruins get a long-term deal done with its marquee player. However, it's late August and not only does a deal seem close, but that the Czechia forward has some regrets with not winning anything in Boston according to Pastrňák himself. It roughly translates to:


“NOW I’M GOING INTO MY NINTH SEASON AND I HAVEN’T WON ANYTHING YET. TIME FLIES AND I REGRET IT EVERY YEAR, ON THE OTHER HAND, I’M HEALTHY AND I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT PREPARING FOR THE NEW SEASON, WHICH I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO DO IN THE LAST THREE YEARS. “


Yikes. If this is the reason that number 88 hasn't been extended yet, that leads many to believe that this may be Pasta's last year in Boston. If he does become available, then the New Jersey Devils should not only pursue him, in my opinion, but that New Jersey is the perfect place for Pastrňák long-term. Lets explore the reasons why that is.



He Fills a Huge Need for the Devils

The Devils were one of only 6 teams last year to not have a single player reach 200 shots on the season. That's not great for a team that prides themselves on shooting the puck at will as well as scoring nonstop. The Devils do balance their shots a bunch around the core they have which is fine. However, you certainly need a guy who has a nose for the goal and doesn't hesitate. David Pastrňák is that guy.


Now, I'm not saying someone or more than one guy on the Devils right now can't become that guy. However, if we are to believe that there are more passive, than aggressive forwards on the roster, then it makes 1000% sense to find the one, top guy that can carry a bulk of the scoring. Like I mentioned before, Pastrňák has scored 30 or more goals in 5 of his last 6 seasons. No Devils player since Taylor Hall's 2017/18 Hart Trophy season has even reached 30, although Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt go close this past campaign.


Adding that type of consistent, high-level scoring to the roster would be absolutely phenomenal. If you're adding a guy like Pastrňák to a top line of Jack Hughes and potentially Alexander Holtz, you're looking at maybe the best top line in the NHL for years to come. Granted, lots has to happen for this to become reality, but if it all goes to plan, I wouldn't want to be the opponents goalies or defense.



Pasta brings Recognition and Star Power to New Jersey

It's very safe to say that Pasta is a superstar and one of the best players in the game. He also is one of the most recognizable as well. From his hilarious Dunkin Donut commercials, to his, "Barbie Girl", interview, Pastrňák as been in front of the camera and in front of many eyes around the world for a while.


The Devils don't have a guy like that at the moment. Yes, Jack Hughes is and will probably be a superstar at some point in his career. However, he isn't there just yet and many still don't even really know who he is or what team he plays for. Having a guy like Pastrňák would force more fans, not just in New Jersey, but all over the world to pay attention to the team from the Garden State.


The team does have major followings from places like Switzerland (because of Hischier) and even Slovakia (because of Šimon Nemec). Can you imagine the following and notice the team would get in Czechia and around the globe if David Pastrňák suits up for the red and black!? It would definitely move the Devils from what many consider to be an, "irrelevant team", to a popular one overnight. His personality on and off the ice would work well with the personalities we have on the roster as well as bring more fun to the Prudential Center each night.



So, with all the reasons and benefits to why the Devils should pursue Pasta if he becomes available, there leaves a few questions. Should the Devils trade for him or wait to see if he hits free agency? Can the Devils afford him? Would he want to come to New Jersey? Let's answer each of those.


Should the Devils trade for him or wait to see if he hits free agency?

This is the first question to answer if the Devils want to go after Pastrňák. While the Devils could certainly give the Bruins a very enticing offer, I think going the trade route isn't the best course of action for a few reasons.


The first is that the Bruins may just not want to trade Pasta and get a deal done (this also applies to the free agency route). The second is that the Bruins may not feel the package justifies Pasta's value, even if this was a trade deadline move. The third is simple, why would the Devils trade for this player if they could just get him in free agency for nothing more than just money? The fourth reason is that no deal should be made unless Pastrňák and New Jersey agree to an extension right then and there.


So, the answer to this, in my opinion, is for the Devils to just wait it out until free agency of next season and put a full-court press to sign him.


Can the Devils afford him?

If he gets to free agency and the Devils want him, how much would they need to sign him for and can the Devils afford it? Pastrňák should make well over $10 million per-year in his next deal, regardless of where he ends up. So, if you're the Devils, does offering a 7-year, $10/$10.5 Million per-season contract be enough to sign the will-be 27 year old? That's more on Pasta and his agent to answer that questions.


But will the Devils have the cash to splash so to speak? According to CapFriendly, the Devils will have almost $37 million in cap space next year. This of course is before a potential Jesper Bratt long-term deal and other moves. Even after that, you're still looking at $25-$28 million left to give someone like David Pastrňák what he wants. Remember, the Devils will only have 8 players on contract after the 22/23 season. Their core guys, other than Bratt, (Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton) are locked up long-term, so they can do a lot of things to build the team around them for years to come.


This leads me to say that the Devils definitely can afford to give Pastrňák all the money and Pork Roll he could want. However, the final and biggest question still remains.


Would he want to come to New Jersey?

This is the question that we ask when it comes to a star player deciding whether or not to play for your team. Does the team fit his style? Is it a great place to live for me and my family? Do they have the money to pay me what I want? Can I win here? These questions can only be answered by the player himself.


It's hard see Pastrňák want to jump to a team that was passed over for Columbus with Johnny Gaudreau. This is especially tough because all signs pointed to Gaudreau coming to the Devils. It also begs the question of why would Pasta leave Boston, where he's made the playoffs and had at least a shot at the Stanley Cup, and come to a team that has made the playoffs just once in the past decade? It's easy to then just give up and just forget it. However, there are things that can happen that could change the narrative.


The team could get back into the postseason this upcoming season and finally step out of their rebuild. The goaltending could finally solidify and be good. Guys like Bratt, Hughes and Nico could take major steps forward in their games. The coaching staff can create a system that works for high-quality scorers. They also create the same thing they created for Johnny Gaudreau. It's the opportunity of pro-longing the players chances to win a cup.


While Boston is still a strong team for right now and they do have some pieces to eventually rebuild, would Pastrňák want to be a part of that and spend years of his prime playing on a team that is more on the decline than rise? Again, those questions are up to Pasta himself to answer.



All in all, there's so much that could happen between now and next summer that could change any chance at all about the Devils and David Pastrňák becoming reality. However, when you look at all the details and reasons, it would be an absolute perfect fit for Pasta to make New Jersey his next home long-term. It would be unreal to see number 88 not only lead this Devils franchise back to relevancy, but bring the Stanley Cup back to the Garden State.



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