David Pastrnak's elite scoring is not just impressing fans of the Boston Bruins, he's earning the respect of everyone around the NHL, including players and team executives.
The 26-year-old superstar scored twice in the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday afternoon. He has 41 goals on the season and trails Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid by only one in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
ESPN surveyed players and execs from around the league asking them to rank the best centers, wingers, defensemen and goalies.
The ranking of wingers was revealed Tuesday, and Pastrnak came in at No. 1. ESPN's Greg Wyshynski wrote that Boston's right wing "got six votes for first place and six for second place, the latter leading all players in the ranking. He appeared on every ballot."
"His one-on-one ability. His shot. This guy is just an elite scorer and can create," a Western Conference executive told ESPN. "For so many years, it was Bergeron and Marchand with him. You are seeing even without those guys, he has the ability to create offense on his own. That is such a unique attribute and a player like that even at his age continues to develop."
Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning ranked No. 2, Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild ranked No. 3, Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked No. 4 and Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche ranked No. 5. Bruins left wing Brad Marchand came in at No. 6. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin rounded out the ranking at No. 10.
Bergeron's offensive consistency deserves recognition after latest milestone
The Bruins have 26 games left, which gives Pastrnak a high probability of hitting the 50-goal mark and a decent chance of reaching 60 goals. Boston hasn't had a 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94, and no Bruins player has eclipsed 60 goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
Pastrnak's consistency has been remarkable. He has scored 40-plus goals in each of the last three full seasons (excluding the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign). He has scored 34 or more goals in six consecutive full seasons.
The Bruins still haven't signed Pastrnak to a contract extension. His current deal expires after this season, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer. It goes without saying that the Bruins must do everything possible to sign him to a long-term deal because offensive players of his caliber are very hard to draft and develop.