TURNS 25: MAY 25, 2021
FINAL RATING: 8.2
David Pastrnak needed to make a quantum leap in his development in this, his third NHL season, after showing great promise during his teenage years in the league, and he’s doing exactly that. The 20-year-old natural scorer has always had the skating, shooting and dazzling playmaking skills, but now he’s up to 190 pounds while winning battles and hanging onto the puck.
Pastrnak has easily been the B’s best forward in the first three months this season, and has been among the league’s top goal-scorers despite missing time along the way with injuries and a suspension. Some of it is obviously the natural maturation process after a couple of years in the NHL, but some of it is also the opportunities now being given to Pastrnak on the power play and riding on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Clearly, Pastrnak put the work in while staying in Boston for six weeks last summer rather than returning home to his native Czech Republic, and the results speak for themselves. The dedication to improving his game and strong work ethic round out the package, and make the former first-round pick the future face of the franchise.
The Patriots, who lost left tackle Nate Solder to the Giants last week, have a couple of his possible replacements, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle, reportedly making free-agent visits to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Fleming visit was reported Sunday. On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Waddle will be joining his former Patriots teammate in Dallas.
Replacing Solder is obviously a key part of the Patriots offseason and retaining Waddle or Fleming could figure into those plans. Waddle, who turns 27 in July, was signed from the Detroit Lions in 2016 and appeared in 12 games last year, starting four. Fleming, a fourth-round Pats pick from Stamford in 2014, turns 26 in September and also played in 12 games last season, starting six.
All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.
“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”
Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.
“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”