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David Pastrnak was the Boston Bruins’ first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft and could make an immediate impact as a rookie this season. Much like former Bruins first-round picks Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin, Pastrnak is a tremendous offensive player with an impressive skill set that separates him from players his age.
“You don’t want to place too much of a burden on this kid’s shoulders, but he was good (at development camp),” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in July. “You know like the hesitation you have is he’s 170 to 173 pounds, but he’s wiry strong, so you never know. Speed, skill, sense is all there, so it would be nice, but we’ll see. But you know, he’s young, and to throw someone like that at that age, at that weight — but there have been guys who have done it.”
Position: Right winger
2013-14 Stats: 8 goals, 16 assists in 36 games (Sodertalje SK, Sweden)
Contract: Three years remaining, $925k salary cap hit
What He Will Bring The Team
Pastrnak is a highly skilled winger with an accurate shot, tremendous speed, great playmaking skills and a strong work ethic. He’s able to create his own offense and generate scoring chances for linemates. The Czech forward also isn’t afraid to take on opposing defensemen and attack the offensive zone with speed.
The offseason departures of veteran forwards Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton left the Bruins with too few right-handed-shooting right wingers. As a right shot with the ability to play either wing position or center, Pastrnak could provide B’s head coach Claude Julien with valuable roster flexibility.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Similar to most teenage forwards with a strong offensive game, Pastrnak still needs to develop defensively. He needs to add strength, because at 5-foot-10 and about 170 pounds, he isn’t going to win many 1-on-1 puck battles below the goal line and along the boards. It should be noted that Pastrnak shows an impressive level of commitment and dedication to improving defensively.
“I was a one-way forward before I went to Sweden,” Pastrnak said at development camp in July. “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.”
Expected Role For 2014-15
Pastrnak has a decent chance to make the Bruins’ roster out of training camp, or at least receive a nine-game trial to start the regular season before the team must decide if 2014-15 will be the first year in his entry-level contract.
After losing Iginla and his team-leading 30 goals, the B’s need scoring and someone who could fill a top-six role. Pastrnak has the potential to address both of those needs, and it helps that he’s a right-hand shot. His speed also adds an element that Boston lacks throughout its forward group.
If Pastrnak does make the team, he’s most likely going to be a first- or third-line player to receive the proper ice time needed for development. His skill set would be a nice fit alongside fellow Czech forward David Krejci on the top line, and he also would gel with third-line center Carl Soderberg. Both of those centers are quality playmakers and would put Pastrnak into prime scoring positions.
Even though the Bruins have kept teenagers at the NHL level in recent seasons, the number of 18- to 19-year-olds playing at the top level has been pretty small over the last 20 years. James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail created this chart detailing the number of teenagers who play 10-plus NHL games going back to 1985.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: 18 goals, 25 assists in 75 games
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