WILMINGTON, Mass. — David Pastrnak generated headlines last season as a rookie who stepped into the Boston Bruins lineup at 18 years old and made a positive impact offensively. He isn’t the only forward from Boston’s 2014 draft class with a bright future, though.
Danton Heinen, an 18-year-old right winger selected by the Bruins in the fourth round, was one of college hockey’s best freshmen for the University of Denver last season.
He also was among the players who made a good impression during drills on Day 2 of the Bruins’ development camp Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena.
“You can tell he’s talented,” Bruins development coach Jay Pandolfo said. “He’s got a lot of poise with the puck. He’s got a great release, a great shot. He’s going to be a really good player. He still needs to get a little stronger. That will help him protecting pucks. But he looks really good. I thought he stood out today.”
Heinen was a unanimous selection to the NCHC All-Rookie team last season, and he also was named to the All-Conference second team. His 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 34 games ranked third among Division 1 freshman in scoring.
“I don’t know if we were surprised, but when you see that, it opens your eyes,” Pandolfo said. “You think maybe he’s closer than further away, for sure. He had a great year last year. Sometimes the sophomore year can be a little tougher. Guys kind of know how he plays now. It’ll be a little harder for him and it’ll be interesting to see how he does this year. But the way he looks out there right now, he’s headed in the right direction.”
Heinen’s stellar freshman season might have been a sign he’s closer to being NHL-ready than the team thought when it drafted him in 2014. But the Bruins aren’t in a position to rush Heinen, and they are eager to see how he handles his second NCAA season.
“He’s only going to be a sophomore in September,” Pandolfo said. “He had a great year as a freshman last year. Same thing with everyone else, we just want to let him develop and be patient with him. If we feel like he’s ready, that’s when we’ll take the next step with him. But right now, he’s progressing the right way.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@alongtheboards