BOLTON, Mass. — David Pastrnak’s first NHL training camp doesn’t start for another few days, and it’ll be another few weeks before he learns if he’ll begin his rookie season on the Boston Bruins’ roster.
In his brief experience competing against fellow NHL prospects, however, the 18-year-old has made quite the impression.
Pastrnak was one of several young Bruins players competing this past week at a preseason tournament in Antioch, Tenn., where they faced off against their peers from the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was in attendance for the first two games — exhibitions he believes were especially beneficial for players such as Pastrnak, who are completely new to the world of North American professional hockey.
“You get to see a lot of things from your prospects,” Julien said Tuesday at the annual Boston Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament. “I was there for the first two games, and it gives me an idea of some of the guys that are going to be coming to the main camp and what to expect. And it’s good for some of the guys like Pastrnak — North American hockey, getting used to that. There’s a lot of hitting going on out there. It gives him a better feel for what to expect out here.”
Pastrnak, the 25th overall draft pick in June, undoubtedly is the most intriguing member of the Bruins’ 2014 rookie class, and the one with the best chance to jump straight to the HL roster. Julien was impressed with what he saw from the Czech forward in his first game in Black and Gold.
“That first game, he showed a lot of skill,” Julien said. “He was probably the best player out there. In the second game, not as much, but the first game really showcased what he’s all about. There’s a reason to be excited about the future of that player.”
That promise might not lead to immediate playing time, though. Pastrnak’s skills are well-documented, but he must prove that his 6-foot, 167-pound frame can withstanding the pounding an NHL forward takes on a game-by-game basis. Julien described the rookie’s evaluation process in simple terms.
“The test he has to pass is, ‘can he play at this level?’ ” the coach said. “I think he’s got the speed, he’s got the skill. Does he have the strength and does he have the experience to overcome the challenges he’s going to be facing? We won’t know that until training camp starts. It’s something that we’ll have to keep a close eye on.”
The Bruins begin training camp Thursday in Wilmington, Mass.
Photo via Twitter/@allbostonbruins