The Boston Bruins have a roster hole to fill early this season with top-line winger David Pastrnak out for the first few weeks of the campaign.
On Day 1 of training camp, it was promising 21-year-old forward Jack Studnicka in that spot.
A natural centerman, the wing has been Studnicka’s path to NHL playing time thus far in his young professional career. With Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly locking Boston down up the middle for the foreseeable future, flanking a pivot will continue to be Studnicka’s way to play.
He showed some promise in the Toronto bubble over the summer, and he’s already getting the attention of his new linemates.
“I really like the way that he played in the playoffs,” Brad Marchand said. “Heâs a very talented kid. Great kid off the ice. So Iâm looking forward to seeing what we can do and watching him take that next step. Thatâs what we need, we need young guys to come in and perform and be big parts of this group, and heâs one of those guys thatâs gonna do it for us.”
If there’s anyone who knows the position Studnicka is in, it’s Bergeron. Now 35, Bergeron once was a budding young centerman who broke into the NHL as a winger in 2003 at the ripe age of 18 before moving to center.
“I said that even last year in the bubble, I was really impressed with his development from training camp last year to training camp in the bubble this past summer,” Bergeron said. “Just the jump that heâs made over that time was amazing to see. To now, I donât think heâs missed a beat.
“He looks good, he seems like one of those players that’s very smart and positions himself well on the ice. So I don’t think moving to the right side is an issue for him, I think he understands the game well enough to do that switch.”
Between the regular season and playoffs, Studnicka played in seven 2019-20 games last season, posting one assist. It seems like a near certainty he’ll appear in more than seven NHL games during the 2021 campaign.