He only played 7:53, 10 shifts, in his NHL debut but Bruins rookie forward David Pastrnak has already left his mark. By appearing in Boston’s 3-2 overtime loss against Pittsburgh on Monday at TD Garden, he became the youngest player to compete in the league so far this season. The Bruins’ first-round pick (25th overall) from the Czech Republic was born on May 25, 1996, which makes him roughly the age of a high school senior or college freshman.
Including the Penguins game, the B’s have scored two goals or less in six of their last seven contests. With nagging injuries to David Krejci, Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand (who returned vs. Pittsburgh), GM Peter Chiarelli felt like it was time to give Pastrnak his chance after the prized rookie got hurt at the end of training camp – causing him to miss the start of Boston’s regular season.
Pastrnak is listed as 6-foot-even but is only 167 pounds, so he clearly needs to get bigger to battle in the corners and in front of NHL nets. Still, his talent jumps off the ice. “I thought he had good legs and so I put him on a couple lines here and obviously you can see that he’s a pretty dynamic player,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “He had that one shift with Bergy’s (Patrice Bergeron) line; March (Brad Marchand) and him had a real good shift there in the offensive zone, I liked his game. I know he probably didn’t get a ton of ice time but when he was out there, I like what he did.”
In 17 games with Providence, Pastrnak had showed the ability to make a quick adjustment to the North American style of play (keep in mind this is his first season in the U.S.). He had five goals (tied for second on the team) while his 13 assists, 18 points (fifth in the AHL) and plus-12 rating all led the team. Finding the right time to call up a young player is always a tough decision. If it’s too early or he doesn’t play much, you risk stunting his development. In this case, the Bruins felt like it was worth it since they were getting so little in terms of offense from their bottom two forward lines and they had a severe lack of creativity among the forwards.
No doubt, it’s been a whirlwind few months for Pastrnak, but he’s doing his best to appreciate the moment and this great opportunity with one of the NHL’s top clubs.
“My dream (to play in the NHL) came true and I just have to keep working hard and I want more games like this,” he said.