From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: David Pastrnak.
The 22-year-old Pastrnak signed a long term contract ahead of last season and then went out and had his best NHL season to date. And that was before he broke a Wayne Gretzky playoff scoring record with a six-point effort in one game during the first round vs. the Maple Leafs en route to a dominant body of work in the postseason. The sky is the limit for Pastrnak given all that he’s done at such a precociously young age, and what he’ll continue to do for the Black and Gold for a long, long time.
What Happened Last Year: Pastrnak took a slight hometown discount in signing a six-year contract extension with the Bruins, and then he went out and scored early and often for the B’s while forming the NHL’s best line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak finished with 35 goals and 80 points along with a plus-10 rating, continued to grow his game while getting stronger on the puck and more physical at times and still has room to grow even better for the Black and Gold. Then Pastrnak flourished in his second go-round in the postseason with six goals and 20 points in 12 playoff games while leading a Boston attack that very boom-or-bust in Stanley Cup playoffs. Pastrnak has almost 100 goals and already has over 200 points while barely over the legal drinking age in the US, and still has plenty of room to grow with his seemingly limitless potential.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest question facing “Pasta” is whether he can continue to get better, and improve his game, at 22 years old with his best days still well ahead of him, or whether he’s now hit a pretty solid plateau that he’ll never move beyond. Either way, potting 35 goals and scoring 80 points is nothing to sneeze about in just his fourth NHL season and those numbers should continue to rise as Pastrnak gains in confidence and keeps honing his skills around the net. It will be interesting to see if the dangerous Pastrnak sticks with the Bruins top line headed into next season, or if the B’s coaching staff decides to slot the goal-scoring right winger on David Krejci’s second line. There’s an argument to be made for spreading out the wealth offensively, but it would be a crying shame to break up that top B’s line, wouldn’t it?
In Their Words: “They are great players, and we’ve played together for a long time. So, obviously the chemistry only gets better when you play with somebody for a while, right? Especially with those two guys, they’re trying to get better every day and they just drag me with them. So, it’s been a pleasure for me to play with them, and I’m excited for next year.” –David Pastrnak, on skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last season, and moving forward.
Overall Outlook: Pastrnak and young Charlie McAvoy are the next generation B’s star players that should help carry this team for the next 10 years while developing into franchise-level players at some very difficult positions. Pastrnak is so good that he’s the kind of player that, in the right situation, could lead the NHL in goals scored or points, and really put up some gaudy offensive numbers is he’s pot in the proper spot. The 22-year-old will need to stay hungry with his skating game, his finishing shot from the circles and around the net and continue to focus on raising his battle level. But all of those things are in very good places right now for No. 88 and he just simply needs to keep honing them against some pretty good opponents. Pastrnak is a special, special player and he truly showed it last season both in the regular season and in the playoffs.