BRIGHTON, Mass – He might have been a bit of a forgotten Bruins prospect while playing over in Europe for the past few years, but 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik looks ready to throw his hat into the ring for an NHL winger job along with young bucks Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen.
Cehlarik scored a goal in each of the rookie camp games in Buffalo last week and found himself skating left wing on a training camp line with potential NHL fourth-liners in Dominic Moore and Riley Nash.
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Slovakian finished with 11 goals and 20 points in 46 games for Lulea in the Swedish Elite League last season and clearly has the combo of skills and size that should make him a factor on the ice.
Perhaps more impressively, Cehlarik has five goals and nine assists in 23 games played for Team Slovakia in international play at the World Junior and World Championship tournaments and has shown flashes that he could be very effective in the NHL.
For now, Cehlarik is hoping to continue adjusting to the North American game after playing his entire career in Europe. That may ultimately be the biggest reason he starts the year in Providence no matter how good his camp ends up being.
“Once you start to produce you get that confidence and that good feeling, and now you bring that over to main camp,” said Cehlarik, who was taken by the Bruins in the third round of the 2013 draft. “I’ll compete hard. I know I have to bring everything I’ve got. I always competed hard for my team in the Swedish Leagues, and now that I’m here I’ll try to compete just as hard.
“I worked hard a lot during the summer, so I’m trying to show my strength a little bit and being able to protect the puck along the walls. I’ve been prepared for this move, and I’m really excited to be here. It’s a dream to be here and be around all of these famous guys. I know I’m going to try to learn a lot from them and try to make the team.”
Does Cehlarik truly believe that he can crack the NHL roster with household names Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara?
“You have to trust yourself,” said Cehlarik, who teamed with DeBrusk a couple of times for goals in the rookie tournament. “But if it doesn’t work out [making the NHL roster] then I’ll learn a lot down at Providence. Then maybe I’ll get to the point where I can make it.”
The big Slovakian winger is off to a good start with the Black and Gold after his rookie camp performance, but now it becomes a much bigger challenge against determined men trying to win NHL jobs at main camp.
"I was impressed [with Cehlarik] like a lot of other people at the rookie camp in Buffalo. I thought he played really well," said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. "He seems to be skating better than he was in the past, and he's a big, strong kid. His ability to hang onto pucks [is good], and he can make plays in small areas with his good hands.
"He made a lot of good plays in that rookie tournament, and he was one of the forwards that really stood out. I believe he's played against men in the past, so you can see he's a little bit stronger and a little more advanced in that regard. He's certainly off to a good start."