Heading into the 2014 NHL Draft, David Pastrnak was a player who was all over the board. I ended up ranking him as the 28th best player in my eyes. As it turns out I was pretty close since the Boston Bruins drafted him 25th overall.
I didn’t rank him higher because other players got better in my eyes, he didn’t get any worse, he just fell into that slot for me. So I knew the Bruins got themselves a terrific player and I felt if he could play in the minors that would help his overall game and acclimate him to North American ice. Clearly the Bruins thought that was the best route for him as well. I think that was the plan all along. It’s easier to keep an eye on a player in the states as opposed to Sweden where he played the previous season.
I was tracking his progress in Providence and knew he wasn’t long for that league. He was more than a point-per-game player and he got his NHL debut on November 24th. After that he had the usual ups and downs of an 18-year-old and he was lent to the Czech Republic to represent his country in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship which took place the end of December into the first week of January.
Here’s a portion of my scouting report of him heading into the big tourney.
Right-handed shot. Can score at even strength. Good skater. Can be dangerous with the puck on the PK as well.
When the Czech Republic was eliminated from the tournament the negative reviews rolled in. Some members of the media focused on his plus/minus in his last game instead of looking at the team picture. Bad coaching, bad game plan. Players who were focused on making highlight reel plays instead of playing as a team. Lots of one-off shots with no rebounds. That was the real story but I liked what I saw out of the kid. He had seven points in five games.
On January 6th the Bruins recalled him but gave him a view from the press box. Then on the 8th he found himself on the bench and on the ice. Little did anybody know that on a Saturday matinee game in Philadelphia the youngster would shine. He would become the Bruins’ best player on the ice and had his first two goals, missing a hat trick chance when his third hit an empty net just after the final buzzer. Still he had his first two career NHL goals against a Flyers team who were looking better heading into that game. The rookie gave his team the kick in the pants that CEO, Charlie Jacobs, was looking for when he put the team on notice just two days before.
“It was something new – a new feeling. It was nice, I can’t describe it,” he said smiling. “The first one was I think was taken in their zone in the power play. We had a few shots. Then Torey [Krug] got a great shot and I got a rebound and I just tried to hit the puck. Then the second one was three against two and I drove the puck to David [Krejci] and moved my skates where the puck went and we found the right pass and it wasn’t hard after that.”
His next game, on Tuesday when the Bruins hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning, he scored another two goals, again as a top liner with Brad Marchand and Krejci. So far, so good. But he’s 18 and things will get hard for him at some point so he may be sent down to the AHL again. I wouldn’t be surprised though if he sticks with the team through the rest of the season.
Bruins fans should be happy either way. Peter Chiarelli and his staff made another terrific selection. Don’t be seduced by the early returns, be encouraged and enjoy the ride.
Russ Cohen can be read at www.sportsology.net and on http://www.amazon.com/Russ-Cohen/e/B0034P5DNC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1421293635&sr=8-1 where he’s authored a few hockey books already, including his latest, “100 Things New York Rangers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” published in November 2014.