WILMINGTON, Mass. — David Pastrnak’s idol is Boston Bruins center David Krejci, and when you watch him skate, it’s not hard to see why.
Selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL draft, the Czech-born winger’s offensive talents make him a joy to watch as he creates scoring opportunities for himself and teammates with slick puck-handling skills and impressive skating ability.
“I think the kid loves to play hockey, he loves to be around hockey and he’s smiling all the time,” Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said Wednesday. “He really enjoys it, he cuts across the middle of the ice on a two-on-two that 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 guys will quickly understand, he’s got some charisma to him on the ice, and I think that flair shows up as well. Early, he was over passing, sending back doors, and all of a sudden, two-on-twos show up and he’s ripping it by glove hand. I think he has a bit of a flair on and off the ice, and I like the excitement. I think it’s infectious for everybody, and we’re excited to have him as part of the organization.”
Before the 2012-13 season, Pastrnak needed to choose the next path in his career — Canadian junior or Sweden. He chose the latter and went on to tally 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 36 games for Sodertalje SK.
“It’s a good league, but I don’t care where I play,” Pastrnak said Thursday after Day 2 of Bruins development camp. “Wherever I play, I just want to play my best. … I like Sweden, it gave me a lot of experience.”
Pastrnak admitted that he needs to continue developing the defensive aspects of his game. He was matched up against Bruins second-round pick Ryan Donato in a one-on-one drill Thursday, and the Dexter School forward was winning most of the battles with his superior strength.
“I was a one-way forward before I went to Sweden,” Pastrnak said. “I was playing just forward … then I came to Sweden and my mentality changed, and my work ethic changed. … I got to Sweden and I started practicing defense. … I know it’s important to be a two-way forward if you want to make not just the NHL, but every big league.”
From an offensive standpoint, Pastrnak is at his best when he’s able to carry the puck into the attacking zone and choose what should come next — setting up a teammate or looking for his own scoring opportunity.
Pastrnak is clever with the puck and shows great patience in waiting for the play to develop before passing. He also has developed a powerful slap shot with improving accuracy, which should make him a threat on the power play.
Overall, Pastrnak is building a strong two-way skill set. He needs to get stronger and improve his defensive positioning, but there’s no question the 18-year-old forward is willing to put in the work needed to become an excellent top-six winger.