BRIGHTON, Mass – After missing nearly the entire Bruins training camp, young Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik has finally shed the red, non-contact jersey and returned to the fold following a gradual recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
The 22-year-old had 20 goals in 49 games for the P-Bruins last season and notched a couple of assists in 11 games in Boston last year while mostly skating with David Krejci. He’d flashed soft hands, a good passing touch and the size/strength ability to be a factor around the net, but took a backseat last season once the Bruins traded for Drew Stafford at the deadline. The big left winger was again with Krejci and David Pastrnak during Friday’s practice while going through a full skate with the rest of the team, but he won’t be ready to play in Saturday’s preseason finale.
Cehlarik was simply just happy to finally be back on the ice
“It felt good to be with the guys after a long summer. I’ve just been trying to get back on the ice and get healthy,” said Cehlarik. “It still felt like the summer [until now]. It felt like camp just started for me today. You work hard to get back and be patient with it, but I’m feeling healthy now.
“No matter who I was practicing with, it finally felt like I was a part of the team. It was good and we’ll see what happens this weekend.”
It would certainly seem at this point Cehlarik is destined for the AHL given that he missed all of training camp, and that there’s already a glut of left wing candidates like Matt Beleskey, Frank Vatrano, Sean Kuraly and Jake DeBrusk before even entering the 6-foot-2, 202-pounder into the mix. Still, there’s no denying that given his size, skill level and the numbers he posted with Providence last season, Cehlarik could be a part of the NHL mix
“Especially at left wing it’s getting a little gummy over there, so we’ve got to sort through it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “[Cehlarik] was just cleared [medically], so we were just mixing him in today. We played him [with Krejci] last year in a lot of the games he played, so essentially we needed a spot for him to keep the continuity for the lines [against Chicago].
“I’ll say this about Peter. He looks like he’s improved his skating and he looks stronger. Like a lot of kids his age, it looks like it was a good summer for him. This injury unfortunately [didn’t allow] us to get a good look at him, but I think he would have learned a lot from his experience last year. I think when he finally does get back into our lineup I think it will be a positive for him. We’ve always liked Peter and we won a lot of games last year with him in the lineup.”
It remains to be seen how long it will take Cehlarik to get his next NHL chance with the Bruins, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen in the short term. Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Friday’s practice with the Bruins not expected to travel a loaded lineup to Chicago for their final tune-up against the Blackhawks: