As we sit here in early June, it is the offseason for all but three teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That means, for better or for worse, it’s also rumor season. It doesn’t take much to get Hockey Twitter going, and LA Kings fans were among those that perked up when this tweet came out on Tuesday:
— NHL Trade Alert (@NHLTradeAlert) June 7, 2022
For those unaware, Fluto Shinzawa is a Senior Writer at The Athletic for the Boston Bruins. The radio segment the above tweet later referenced wasn’t the first time Shinzawa mentioned David Pastrnak as a potential trade piece. In his most recent article for The Athletic, he noted this:
“If the Bruins sense any hesitation on Pastrnak’s part to re-sign, their only alternative will be to trade their 2014 first-rounder. They cannot afford to let Pastrnak skate for nothing.”
Of course, this is more speculation than Shinzawa actually reporting that he’s heard from team sources that Pastrnak is available. But when the names “Pastrnak” and “trade” are mentioned in the same sentence, it’s hard not to take note.
Since this is the offseason and something that the LA Kings are desperately looking to find is scoring, why don’t we explore what a potential trade for Pastrnak could look like?
For starters, let’s take a look at his contract.
Per CapFriendly, the Czech winger is entering the last year of his current six-year deal that pays him an average of $6.67 million per year. Meaning he will be an Unrestricted Free Agent a year from now. Pastrnak also has a No-Movement Clause and a Modified No-Trade Clause. He must submit a 10-team no-trade list to the Boston Bruins should they approach him about a deal. Whether the Kings are on that list, only Pastrnak knows.
He has one year remaining at $6.67M AAV (average annual value) before hitting the market, which certainly makes things tricky when considering what to offer in a trade. He’s one of the elite point producers in the game, but unless a team has an assurance they can sign him to a long-term extension after the trade, a potential suitor would have to be cost-conscious.
But make no mistake, this is an elite talent who just turned 26 years old.
Next, what would the Bruins be looking for?
Well, if they decide that they are trading Pastrnak, it’s fair to assume the Bruins would be heading into a full-blown rebuild. So, in that case, the argument could be made they’re looking for anything to load up their prospect pool, not any specific position.
In his latest prospect rankings, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler had the Bruins ranked 27th. They’d be looking to improve across the board from a quality standpoint. Of the 14 players Wheeler ranked, three are right-shot defensemen, but none of them crack his top five.
The Kings were rated second in Wheeler’s rankings, so they certainly have a lot to offer in terms of prospects.
Boston is absent a first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Indeed, if you’re trading a player like Pastrnak, you’d better be comfortable giving up at least one first-round draft pick. The Bruins have also traded their 2023 and 2024 second-round picks. So I would expect that, in addition to prospects, they’ll want at least a first-round pick as well as to recoup a pick in 2023 or 2024.
It’s now time to put yourself in Rob Blake‘s shoes. As General Manager of the LA Kings, what does your potential trade package look like?
I’ll attempt two scenarios, one where Pastrnak agrees to sign an extension with the Kings upon a trade, and another where he does not.
First, Pastrnak agrees to sign an extension with the Kings after trading for him. The two parties agree to a seven-year deal paying Pastrnak $9.5 million AAV.
If he is signing an extension, the Kings will have to pay a healthy price in a trade. I would try everything not to trade Quinton Byfield as he is the future number-one center in Los Angeles, but virtually every other player is on the table.
I’d mentioned that the Bruins will want a first-round pick. If Byfield isn’t going, then Brandt Clarke surely is. The deal I made using CapFriendly’s armchair GM is:
Los Angeles Receives
2022 1st Round Pick
2023 2nd Round Pick
In looking at the Jack Eichel return, the Sabres received four assets, two of which were picks. While not apples to apples, in Pastrnak you would also have a mid-20s star locked up for years. I think this is roughly what a trade could look like for Pastrnak. The Bruins may prefer a third prospect instead of the second-round pick; they also may choose someone other than Turcotte (could Arthur Kaliyev be the ask?), who has struggled to stay healthy in his early professional career.
Here’s what the Kings lineup could look like with a Pastrnak addition:
A few things with this. Some assumptions were made on signings that we at Hockey Royalty discussed here. While most Restricted Free Agents received Qualifying Offers, Adrian Kempe and Mikey Anderson were signed to longer-term deals.
Even at $6.6 million, the Kings do not have much to work with to address the left side of the defense. Should the Kings want to do that, they’d then have to explore moving salary out. Perhaps Alex Iafallo, Sean Walker, or Matt Roy will become available.
It is also worth considering that this is the first year of that deal. In my scenario, that $6.6 million turns into $9.5 million, so there’d be more roster shuffling next summer. I think that’s actually a little less of a concern with some money from Jonathan Quick coming off the books and Trevor Moore‘s contract coming to an end. But there are many moving parts with that, and with an entire season plus offseason before that would come into play, I’m not going to go crazy speculation that part here.
That’s what makes Pastrnak more attractive to me than, say Filip Forsberg. The Kings would get the first year of ‘Pasta’ at a reasonable price.
Now, what if there is no agreement for Pastrnak to sign? This becomes a little trickier.
It’s still David Pastrnak, a player that will be costly to acquire. If I were the Kings, I would do everything not to include Byfield or Clarke in this scenario. Perhaps, it could be something like this:
Los Angeles Receives
2022 1st Round Pick
The Bruins would still get a first-round pick, they’d get a promising right-shot defense prospect and a player in Vilardi – who is still only 22 years old – with NHL experience, but perhaps a change of scenery would be best.
In my personal opinion, I do whatever I could to get Pastrnak in Los Angeles. I prefer him to the aforementioned Forsberg. The challenging part for me is not addressing the left side of the defense, which in my opinion, is a glaring issue.
This is all very unlikely, but it’s fun to consider at the end of the day. I also think it helps to show the hefty cost a player like Pastrnak would bring in and the difficulties in addressing other parts of the roster. Remember, the Kings do not have quite as much cap space as people would like to believe.
So, what do you think, Kings fans? Is it time for some Pasta in Los Angeles?