WILMINGTON, Mass. – It’s pretty obvious how much Bruins' 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak loves playing hockey when he uttered the word “paradise” on the first day of development camp.
The colorful personality ofthe Czech- born player continued to emerge on Wednesday after flashing glimpses of it with a grinning first impression at NHL Draft weekend in Philadelphia. He continued that his first time skating in the Black and Gold sweater at Ristuccia Arena.
Pastrnak showed off with the puck on his stick, dangling and dishing while also showing off the dangerous shot that B’s scouts project will allow him to score his fair share of goals at the NHL level. Even better, he was chirping and talking a mile a minute, and didn’t show any of the reserved personality one might expect from a European player dipping their toes into the NHL water for the first time.
Clearly, Pastrnak was showing the joy of playing in his work on the ice, even if he was a bit rusty having not played much in the past two months.
“Everybody was looking forward to getting on the ice. Thanks to everybody that came out and supported us,” said Pastrnak. “It was my first time on the ice for two months, so I was having a tough time myself. I was focusing on my skating and how I played, but it was a good feeling being out there.
“At least now for a week I’m going to be a real Bruin. Hopefully when I get back to Europe I have to keep working, and hopefully someday I can be a Bruin for longer than one week. It was unreal when David Krejci messaged me over the phone after I was drafted. He just wrote me ‘congrats buddy, I hope to see you at camp and we’re going to have fun.’ I didn’t know what to say to him because I was in paradise. I just said ‘thank you’, and it will be great to meet him.”
He was boasting to fellow former first-round pick Malcolm Subban that he was going to score early and often on him, and playfully squirted him with a water bottle once the P-Bruins goalie jumped on the ice 30 minutes later than his teammates.
"[Pastrnak] was talking about going high glove on me w/that Ovechkin curve on his stick,” said a smiling Subban afterward.
He almost looked like his idol Krejci at times when he pulled the puck back to slow things down, and circled down the middle looking for open teammates in the offensive zone. The vision, the hockey smarts and the soft hands were all Krejci-like, but it’s clear that Pastrnak has a better release and harder shot for scoring than his fellow Czech did at this point in his puck career.
It wasn’t all perfect, of course. Pastrnak looked a little uncomfortable skating in borrowed equipment after showing up in Boston with only his skates in tow.
Still, Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney witnessed the energy, the skills, and everything that went into the skilled winger being drafted with the 25th overall pick.
“[He was] probably getting used to his equipment that he borrowed from us because he showed up with just his skates,” said Sweeney, to good-natured laughter from those who watched Pastrnak fall down on the ice a couple of times in the workouts. “I think the kid loves to play hockey, he loves to be around hockey and he’s smiling all the time. He really enjoys it.
“He cuts across the middle of the ice on a two-on-two that some defensemen are going to lick their chops and he’s going to pick up his helmet sideways probably at some point in time. But that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try it again, and I like that about him. I think when you talk to him, you guys will quickly understand he’s got some charisma to him on the ice. I think that flare shows up as well. Early he was over-passing, sending back doors and all of a sudden two-on-twos show up, and he’s ripping it by the glove hand. I think he has a bit of a flare on and off the ice, and I like the excitement. I think it’s infectious for everybody [at camp], and we’re excited to have him as part of the organization.”
It’s great that the Bruins are excited for Pastrnak, but it’s 100 percent apparent to everybody that nobody is more excited than the Czech forward to be wheeling and dealing with an NHL logo stitched on his chest.
Keep an eye on this kid because he’s awfully fun to watch, and he’s got the offensive skills to back it all up.