WILMINGTON, Mass. — David Pastrnak burst onto the scene for the Boston Bruins last season and injected much-needed speed and offensive skill into a lineup forced to deal with a lot of injuries.
He tallied 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 47 games, and he also posted 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 25 games for the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
Pastrnak was one of two players from the 2014 NHL draft (the other was Calder Trophy winner Aaron Ekblad) to play 40 or more games last season. He was the youngest player in the league at 18 years old, and at that age, strength almost always is a concern.
Getting stronger was one of Pastrnak’s goals this summer, and he’s now up to 181 pounds.
“It’s not going to come in one summer, so I’m building,” Pastrnak said Tuesday after the Bruins’ informal practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I’m pretty sure we can get there. I have been working out all summer, I feel pretty strong on the ice, but I still don’t want to forget I’m a skilled player.”
The Bruins will need as much skill from Pastrnak as possible because they fell to 22nd in goals scored last season after ranking third in 2013-14. The power play went from being third-best in 2013-14 to 18th a season ago.
It’s unclear which line the Czech forward will play on this season, but it shouldn’t be too hard finding the right linemates given the impressive chemistry he had with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner last year.
Pastrnak avoiding a sophomore slump would go a long way toward helping the Bruins’ offense improve its output and consistency. Aiding him with that is an increased level of comfort that comes from having one NHL season of experience.
“Oh, it’s a big difference than last year,” Pastrnak said. “I feel a little more confident on the ice, and I think it’ll help me. Last year I came here and I didn’t know anyone, now I have some friends here, so it makes it easier all around. I feel really good now.”
After an impressive rookie campaign, Pastrnak will be under pressure to build on that success and help the Bruins return to the Stanley Cup playoffs. But that’s not his focus entering the new season.
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “I’m just going to play the same game as I did last year and see if it’s going to bring something.”
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images