BostonBruins.com - David Pastrnak made his way towards the bow of the boat, as it eased through the Boston Harbor.
He was on his way back from Thompson Island following a day of team-building activities with 22 other prospects he had befriended during the past week at Bruins Development Camp.
As he stared off into the distance, with his Bruins' draft hat backwards on his head, the skyline of downtown Boston stretched out before him. There had just been a downpour and the clouds were beginning to open right over the city.
Two weeks ago, the 2014 first-round draft pick was in Philadelphia, hearing his name announced as the Bruins selected him 25th overall.
Just a week after that, the 18-year-old Czech was arriving to Boston for the first time in his life to attend the club's development camp.
Much can happen in a two-week span.
BostonBruins.com - Matt Bartkowski has been a Bruin for four years.
On July 15, after the restricted free agent was signed by the Bruins to a one-year deal, he's headed for his fifth.
"I'm grateful to be able to sign with the Bruins' organization because I know we have a chance to win every year," said Bartkowski, speaking with media on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
"It's been nothing short of just spectacular, awesome, whatever adjective you want to use for it, but we have a great group from the top down, from the management down to the teammates and everyone, just a great group of hockey people."
"I was lucky enough to be here as a Black Ace when they won the Cup and the past few years, we've fallen a little short, but every year we have a chance to win, so there's nothing more you can really ask for."
With the contract (worth an annual cap figure of $1.25 million), the defenseman and the Bruins avoided the arbitration process. Bartkowski was Boston's only RFA to file.
"There wasn't any hesitation to file for it, but there wasn't any doubt in my mind that we weren't going to have a deal before we got to that stage [with the hearing]," he said. "I didn't want to go to arbitration. I filed for it just as a protective measure, but I think it was mutual that we knew that something was going to get done."
BostonBruins.com - On Tuesday morning, the Bruins signed defenseman Matt Bartkowski to a one-year deal, avoiding the arbitration process. The Bruins also announced that they signed forward David Pastrnak to an entry-level contract.
Bartkowski marks the second restricted free agent signed by the Bruins this offseason, following goalie Niklas Svedberg. His contract is worth $1.25 million.
Out of the club's RFAs that need to be re-signed, only Bartkowski filed for arbitration. When General Manager Peter Chiarelli met with media on the final day of Bruins' Development Camp Sunday, he told reporters that he thought a deal would get done with the blueliner before his arbitration hearing. That proved true.
"It’s always good if you can come to an agreement before the hearing. So I think it sends a positive message to Matt that we want to have him back," Chiarelli said Monday, when the deal was announced. "It was going to be a contract anyways, because he elected arb, but I’m okay with that. It’s just good to get it done."
"It doesn’t mean you do it and your compromise or work around the edges - it’s to get a good result, and you try and do it in the best interest of the player also."
Bartkowski is coming off his first full-time NHL job in 2013-14, in his fourth year in the Bruins organization. He played 64 games, recording 18 assists with a plus-22 rating. The defenseman opened eyes during the 2013 postseason, when he filled in for injuries along with Torey Krug and scored his first NHL goal in his second playoff game.
BostonBruins.com - While David Pastrnak certainly stood out among the group at Bruins Development Camp, General Manager Peter Chiarelli was also impressed by the strong camps from Sweden natives Anton Blidh and Linus Arnesson.
Both were drafted by the Bruins in 2013, and came into their second camp looking much stronger and much more comfortable.
"You know, I thought Blidh had a strong camp, I thought Arnesson had a strong camp," Chiarelli said, while discussing his impressions on the final day of on-ice sessions at Ristuccia Arena.
Arnesson, a mobile, two-way defenseman, signed his entry-level deal with the team on June 1 after being the team's first 2013 draft pick (second round, 60th overall). It came as a bit of a surprise for Arnesson, but was a testament to his development.
The blueliner is set to attend Boston's training camp before playing the 2014-15 season with Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League.
Blidh, an aggressive, high-energy winger, was a sixth round pick (180th overall) for the Bruins in 2013, and came into camp a much more mature, physical player with added strength.
BostonBruins.com - Two weeks ago, Czech David Pastrnak was one of the newest members of the Bruins organization. Drafted 25th overall in the first round in Philadelphia, the club was fortunate the right wing out of Södertälje in Sweden was still available when their pick came around.
After a week at the Bruins' Development Camp, his first in-depth experience with the Black and Gold, he's shown the management and scouts enough for them to be excited about his potential.
With forward roster spots up for grabs at training camp this September, there's an outside chance the skilled winger could be pushing for a spot.
"You never know," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli, addressing media on the final day of the camp's on-ice sessions at Ristuccia Arena on Sunday. "You don’t want to place too much of a burden on this kid’s shoulders, but he was good."
"The hesitation you have is he’s 170, 173 pounds, but he’s wiry strong, so you never know. The speed, skill, sense is all there so it would be nice, but we’ll see. He’s young and to throw someone like that at that age, at that weight – but there have been guys who have done it."
Pastrnak impressed at development camp with his shifty play and his quick foot speed, and with the ability to make nifty passes, or rip one past glove-hand. He has a flair on and off the ice. Teammates and staff gravitate to him.
BostonBruins.com - When the prospects arrived to Bruins Development Camp, they could have never guessed what they would get the chance to do five days later.
After putting in days of work, they all arrived to Fenway Park on Saturday morning, wide-eyed and beyond ready for batting practice aiming at the Green Monster.
When they walked into the empty ballpark, a line of Red Sox jerseys - complete with their names etched on the back - awaited them in the dugout, along with the Sox hats to match.
"It was pretty crazy," said 2014 draft pick, and Scituate, Massachusetts native Ryan Donato. "I've been to a lot of games and being on the field and taking BP is another thing. And to be with some of your friends is another."
"I mean, it was just a great day, a great experience, and I'll remember that for the rest of my life."
Donato was joined by fellow Massachusetts natives Ryan Fitzgerald, Matt Grzelcyk, Michael Doherty and Billy Sweezey. They were all in awe (as was everyone), from the moment they saw the field and slipped on the jerseys.
"Growing up, watching baseball, watching the Red Sox, it was a pretty unbelievable to be able to be on the field and play on the field," said Donato. "We had a great day, and the Red Sox organization did a lot for us."
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins' eighth annual development camp kicked off on July 9, with prospects from all over joining together and sporting the Spoked-B.
The 23 players invited to the camp come from Europe, locally in Boston, Canada and across the U.S. They spend their seasons playing in the NCAA, overseas and in junior hockey. They're all at varying stages of their development, and come from different draft classes.
Their one common thread is being part of the Bruins' organization, whether they were just drafted, or participating in their fourth or fifth camps.
"It’s a privilege I think to a degree to be invited to the camp. It doesn’t mean just because you’ve been drafted, that it’s your right now to be here and I think guys should treat it that way and in a respectful manner," said Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney, who started the camp eight years ago.
"And I think for the most part they do. We’ve got some guys that we are going to address to say ‘you need to do a better job in some areas’. It doesn’t mean we’re discouraged by any means but we want them to understand that they have work to do."
At the beginning of camp, the players take everything in stride, especially a new member of the organization like winger David Pastrnak, drafted 25th overall at this year's draft in Philadelphia.
BostonBruins.com - The Spoked-B will have a new practice home starting in the Fall of 2016, a little bit closer to home.
The Bruins announced on Tuesday that they have signed a letter of intent for a long-term lease with the Boston Landing development in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston to build the new rink.
The facility will include approximately 25,000 square feet of dedicated locker room, training and office space. Construction is estimated to begin in the Spring of 2015.
The Bruins have practiced out of Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Mass. since the 1987-88 season.
While Boston's ownership and front office were certainly excited to announce the new plans, Boston Mayor (and Bruins' fan) Marty Walsh was thrilled to hear the news.
"The Bruins have made Boston proud with an incredible legacy of perseverance, spirit and heart, and we're excited that they have returned here and will be investing in Boston through this new development and plans for an impressive practice facility in Brighton," said Mayor Walsh. "I'd like to welcome the Bruins back to the neighborhood."
The Boston Landing project consists of a 14-acre mixed-use development that will include the world headquarters of New Balance, a new commuter rail station, hotel, retail and restaurant space, along with the Bruins' new sports complex.
BOSTON - Two weeks ago, David Pastrnak was a 6'0" 167-pound forward from Havířov, Czech Republic, playing for Södertälje in Sweden.
He had an 8-16=24 stat line to his name through 36 games playing in the Allsvenskan League in 2013-14. He had just recently celebrated his 18th birthday.
Now, he's all of that, plus a first-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins, having been selected 25th overall in Philadelphia on June 27.
Being in Philly was his first time in the United States. On Monday night, it marked another first for Pastrnak, as he made his first trip to Boston in advance of the Bruins' annual development camp.
On-ice sessions for Pastrnak and the rest of the prospects begin Wednesday, July 9, at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass. and are open to the public (check out BostonBruins.com for the full schedule).
After a long day of travel from Prague on Monday - consisting of a nine-hour flight to JFK International Airport in New York and a connecting flight to Boston - he didn't show an ounce of fatigue as he arrived to the baggage claim at Logan Airport, clad in his Bruins' polo and draft hat with the Spoked-B.
Always smiling, Pastrnak dismissed the 'positive' of having Tuesday to rest before camp kicks off on Wednesday. "It's all mental!" he said, of any jet lag.
The only worry he had was that his bag had not made the journey with him. But then the duffel bag he received from the Bruins at the draft, outfitted in Spoked-B embroidery, made its way around the conveyor belt. All clear.
Pastrnak had been on a whirlwind ride for the past week and a half, and his emotions hadn't changed since the night he was drafted.
"Unbelievable" was his word of choice that night. "I was getting nervous after every pick more and more and I’m really proud that Boston believed in me and they picked me. They’re a good organization and great people," he had said after being selected by the Bruins.
So, have those emotions subsided yet? Not quite.
"Still the same," Pastrank said on Monday in Boston. "I feel really good and still so happy."
Having only known English for a couple of years, he's still not completely comfortable doing interviews, especially on-camera. But his persona goes far beyond his words.
While the on-ice product is ultimately what matters - and Pastrnak has established himself as a right winger with solid play along the boards, grit and a strong shot, with plenty of room to grow - his optimistic personality certainly shines through.
"He competes and he’s got skill and we thought we needed some more skill. He handles the puck real well, and he protects the puck real well," Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky said after he was drafted. "And he’s full of energy. You just, you gravitate to him."
General Manager Peter Chiarelli had the same takeaways on the forward, starting when the B's brass first met him and had dinner with him prior to the draft.
"He looks up to [David] Krejci. All those young Czech players look up to Krejci and he certainly is one of them. He's got a real good personality," Chiarelli said, from the draft floor after the first round.
"Have you met him yet? He's a real energetic kid, enthusiastic, and loves to play, and he respects it as a profession. I really like the kid's personality and I like the way he plays."
Pastrnak knows he needs to get stronger, and development camp will point him in the right direction as he continues to develop his pro game in the Bruins' organization.
The off-ice components are just as meaningful, and with the forward's work ethic, he'll certainly take in all that the camp has to offer. He wants to make the Bruins proud.
Now, just as he moved away from home to Sweden when he was young, he's embarking on a new adventure. For the beginning of July, that new adventure takes him to Boston.
"It's the first time [in Boston] - it was a long flight but I was looking forward to getting here, and now that I'm already here, I've got to enjoy it," said Pastrnak.
As he walked through Logan Airport carting his bags and his skates, a view of the Boston skyline could be seen through the windows.
"This looks just like my town," he joked with a smile, as downtown Boston was pointed out to him.
His hometown of Havířov is just about on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, and less than an hour drive from Slovakia. With a population of around 77,000, compared to Boston's roughly 637,000, and not many skyscrapers, it was an enticing sight for the newest member of the Black & Gold, even if he had seen bigger cities before.
With a new city, new organization and new 'teammates' for the week whom he's never met, Pastrnak was in for a completely new experience.
He was happy to learn that his new roommate was from Sweden, fellow 2014 draftee Emil Johansson. If he has any questions, he can also take solace in second year campers from Sweden, Linus Arnesson and Anton Blidh, along with Slovakia native Peter Cehlarik, the only other prospect Pastrnak is familiar with as he begins camp.
Outside of Pastrnak's comfort zone, he's still learning what it means to be a part of Boston and the Bruins, and part of that new education means knowing the Boston-New York sports rivalry.
In the Czech Republic, a hat with a NY Yankees logo is just a hat. After being drafted, Pastrnak quickly learned to rock a Red Sox - and only a Red Sox - hat, for the Boston faithful.
But beyond the nuances of learning about a new place and its loyalties, the newest member of the Bruins' organization is just excited for the whole process to begin.
"Exciting, very much. I'm not even tired after that [travel]," said Pastrnak. "I'm just really looking forward to being on the ice and in practices, and meeting the guys. It's going be fun."
As David Krejci would say (in Czech), Hodně štěstí!
BostonBruins.com - As the nation celebrates its 238th birthday and honors another Fourth of July, fireworks, parades and barbecues are stretching across the country.
You won't be surprised to find one of the Bruins' only Americans, Torey Krug, joining in the festivities.
The native of Livonia, Michigan has become a New Englander and Bostonian since first wearing the Spoked-B in 2012, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Just as he takes pride in the Black and Gold, he's especially grateful for the Red, White and Blue.
The defenseman, who spends his summers training in Connecticut, checked in with BostonBruins.com via phone on the eve of the Fourth.
"Still out East, and loving every second of it," Krug said of his summer so far. He and his wife, Melanie, were heading to Rhode Island to take part in Fourth of July festivities.
Since being around New England, and in Boston, he's sensed the pride the area takes in being rich in American history, with landmarks and the Freedom Trail winding near TD Garden through Boston's North End and Charlestown.
"I spend a lot of time walking around, and you can feel the patriotism inside the people of Boston," said Krug. "I feel like it's just a great city to be a part of, and it represents everything about the United States as a whole, when you talk about freedom, patriotism and pride in general."