Pastrnak Puts Himself into Roster Discussion with Strong Camp
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.
"Pastrnak – you saw how he played – probably stood out the most for me," said Chiarelli. "You know, these camps are the starting point of their professional careers for the first-year guys like a Pastrnak. It’s a pretty good indicator as to where they’ll end up."
"A lot of things can happen but I was pleased with Pastrnak. There’s only been a couple players that have showed that at these camps over the years. He’s still got a little ways to go, but I’m very happy with Pastrnak."
It hasn't been determined yet if the forward is definitely coming to the Bruins' training camp.
"Not yet, I’m working on it," said Chiarelli. "There's a couple of signing deadlines. One is the 15th [of July] for players over the Swedish transfer agreement and then there’s another one, it might be a month later, you have to pay a little extra money to the federation [Swedish Ice Hockey Association.]"
"So if we can get him signed, which I anticipate we will be able to, you’ll see him in camp."
Throughout the week, Assistant GM Don Sweeney and Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy both referenced what Chiarelli saw from atop the stands at Ristuccia Arena.
"Clearly, there’s a reason he’s a first-round draft pick," said Cassidy, who spent time on the ice with him all week. "He’s got all kinds of skills – he reminds me a little bit of when Tyler [Seguin] was here at his first development camps again, and Alexander Semin I had years ago, those quick guys that can really shoot it off without a lot of time or wasting a lot of time and make those little tight area plays."
There's an aura around the winger, whether it's his infectious personality, or his willingness to take everything in around him. He's fearless on the ice, and doesn't shy away from traffic.
"I think the kid loves to play hockey, he loves to be around hockey and he’s smiling all the time," said Sweeney. "He really enjoys it - he cuts across the middle of the ice on a two-on-two, some defenseman are going to lick their chops and he’s going to pick up his helmet sideways probably at some point in time - but that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to try it again and I like that about him."
"I think when you talk to him, you quickly understand, he’s got some charisma to him on the ice and I think that flair shows up as well."
Being around players his own age at development camp is only one small sample size of what he can bring, though. Can he show the same ounce of flair, when tasked with going up against, say, Johnny Boychuk or Patrice Bergeron?
That's why training camp would provide a better indication. If he's not really ready for the jump to the pro North American game, he'll spend the next season developing his game in Sweden.
"Well, there’s a progression right? There’s the camp: bigger, stronger, faster. There’s the preseason: bigger, stronger, faster. There’s the under 20 players, you’ve got that cushion, you’ve got those nine games again bigger, faster, stronger in the regular season," said Chiarelli.
"So there’s three levels there and in my time here and before I was here, we’ve had under 20 players play. I’ve been part of under 20 players playing teenagers and they go through each of the three stages and it’s another test, another test and then you make the decision."
Pastrnak's raw talent is apparent; there's no question about that. Now Chiarelli and his staff would like to be proven wrong when it comes to his capability to play at the NHL level.
"He’s, 18 right? So I don’t know, I’d say he’s 175 pounds, maybe, so that part of the game is always worrisome when you’re that young - you’re playing against men, violent, angry men a lot of nights," said Cassidy. "I don’t know what the plan is for him, he’s a right shot, I hear a lot of talk about that, that’s an area of need, so he’s got that going for him as well."
"Again, I don’t know what the plan is or how he fits in this year, but right now, he sure looks good in terms of skill."
He looked good enough that it caused Chiarelli to re-assess his plan to possibly sign an unrestricted free agent on the secondary market to help fill the void left on the right side without Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton. That route is still an option, but with the GM looking at three spots to fill on his roster up front for 2014-15, Pastrnak might have placed himself into the mix.
"What [this camp] did, is like 'wow, I've got to take a second look at this, understanding that he's 171 pounds.'"