PHILADELPHIA – The Bruins selected three players out of the Swedish Leagues last season in a departure from their previous six drafts, and once again the Black and Gold culled talent from those leagues in the first round on Friday night.
The Bruins selected right wing David Pastrnak with the 25th overall selection in the first round at the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center. Pastrnak is a crafty, skilled two-way player with a notable wrist shot and excellent hands.
“I know he had success in all of the tournaments,” said Peter Chiarelli. “He’s a good, two-way player, and he’s a creative player: speed, sense and puck protection. For me the big things are puck protection, vision and two-way play. He’s got a good frame and he’s still got some room to fill out.
“As guys started to drop it seemed like he might land with us. I actually thought Vancouver might have taken him.”
Perhaps even more interesting, Pastrnak left a single mother household in the Czech Republic for Sweden at 15 years old to chase his hockey dream, and plays with that kind of inspired zeal each time he takes the ice. It was that spirit and energy – along with the hands, the shot and the skating wheels – that attracted the Bruins scouts to him in the first place.
“He’s a good, skilled player that plays two-way [hockey], and he can play either center or right wing,” said Bruins director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky. “He handles the puck really well, and protects the puck well. He competes really hard and he’s got good skill. We felt like we needed some more skill.
“He’s full of energy. He moved away when he was young because he wanted to be a hockey player. He plays hard on the puck, and he competes. There are some guys that can score 50 goals, but they get shy about going into the corners. He’s not one of those guys.”
Perhaps that was a veiled shot at a former first round pick that’s now racking up points in Dallas, or perhaps it was just an observation about some of the more high profile players being selected before and after Pastrnak.
The Havirov, Czech Republic native spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with Södertälje of the Swedish B League (Allsvenskan League) where he appeared in 36 games and accumulated eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points. The forward also appeared in one game for the Södertälje J20 team (SuperElite) where he totaled two points with a goal and an assist.
Pastrnak really caught the eye of scouts on the international stage playing for the Czech Republic U18 World Junior team where he served as assistant captain, the Czech Republic U18 International Junior team, the Czech Republic U20 World Junior team, and the Czech Republic U20 International Junior team. During his time with those teams he totaled seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points in 35 games played.
In 2012-13 Pastrnak skated for Sodertalje J18 (J18 Elite and J18 Allsvenskan), Sodertalje 20 (SuperElite), Sodertalje (Allsvenskan) and the Czech Republic U18 team. Combined, the forward appeared in 69 games where he tallied 28 goals and 30 assists, and said he’s modeled his game after fellow Czech and Bruins center David Krejci. That’s a good thing given they have similar skills in terms of hands, shiftiness, hockey sense and competitiveness in an average-sized NHL body.
“I’m really proud that Boston believed in me and picked me, and I’ll do everything I can to pay them back,” said Pastrnak. “I’ve tried to play like David Krejci from when I was just born. He was my idol from when I was small, and it’s even better now that I’ve been drafted by Boston.
“I try a lot of skating, and I try to make one-on-one plays. I have a good hockey sense and I’m a team player. I try to play a two-way game. That’s important if you want to play this kind of hockey.”
The selection of Pastrnak ended a largely sedate first round for the Boston Bruins contingent, who only had a couple brief discussions before biding their time until the 25th selection. The one interesting moment: midway through the first round Chiarelli walked over to the Florida Panthers, tapped Dale Tallon on the shoulder and then proceeded to have a lengthy chat with him long after the Panthers had selected Aaron Ekblad.
Clearly it wasn’t about moving up in the draft as Florida didn’t have any other first round choices, so perhaps that’s something to watch out for on Day Two when the Bruins make the rest of their selections while missing their third (Andrej Meszaros trade) and sixth (Wade Redden trade) round picks.