WILMINGTON, Mass. — David Pastrnak hit the ice Friday for his first training camp practice as a Boston Bruin.
As expected, the 18-year-old rookie played right wing alongside first-line center and fellow Czech forward David Krejci during second-group line drills at Ristuccia Arena.
“It’s great. He’s a skilled player,” Pastrnak said of Krejci. “I like to play with him.”
Even though they’re both offensive-minded players with excellent skating ability, it’ll take time to develop the right amount of chemistry for this duo to thrive.
“To play with (Pastrnak), he’s got great hands, he’s got really good speed,” Krejci said. “It was all right today, we didn’t too much line drills today, We’ll just take it day-by-day.”
Expectations of Pastrnak were high after he was selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL draft, and they’ve only increased in the months after because he was Boston’s best player at the July development camp and last week’s rookie tournament in Tennessee. The Bruins are hopeful Pastrnak can win one of the open winger spots with his play in camp and the preseason, but it’s important not to rush his development.
“What we’ve been saying with David, is take it one step at a time. So, you know, get your feet wet in main camp, and he had a real good few games in Nashville,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday. “You know, he’s got the little things where guys overtry a little bit, hang onto the puck a little bit, cut to the middle and stuff like that, but he’s a smart player and he’ll adjust. We had him starting at center and we put him on wing, and we’re going to put him on wing, just to give him a little bit of variety to start.
“It’s just about slow progression, take it one step at a time. Let’s keep in mind on this player, he’s still young and he’s light and you know, you worry with a player of this age and size – there’s some players obviously that seem to play and are durable and that — that he could get hurt. He’s a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we’re taking it slowly and we’ll see where it goes.”
Pastrnak’s skills have been well-documented. He’s a highly skilled, right-handed shooting winger with an accurate shot, top-end speed, impressive playmaking acumen and a high hockey IQ.
Pastrnak has the talent to succeed at the NHL level in the current stage of his development — he just needs to get stronger because it’ll be difficult for him to win puck battles along the boards and in the corners at his size (5-foot-11 and about 165 pounds). Training camp and the preseason will give him valuable experience against pro-level players and show the coaching staff if he’s capable of handling the physical demands of the pro game.
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