The NHL Network is rolling through it’s #NHLTopPlayers Rankings and currently, they’re focused on the Top 20 Wings in the league right now. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, who with Patrice Bergeron skating between them, make up the famed ‘Perfection Line’ for the Boston Bruins not only made the list but made the cut for the Top 10 as Marchand was ranked sixth and Pastrnak was ranked second finishing behind only New York Rangers left winger Artemi Panarin.
Since reaching the 30-goal plateau for the first time in 75 games during the 2016-17 season, David Pastrnak has been on a rapid trajectory to stardom. He has lit the lamp 30 times each of the last three seasons and fell just two goals shy of the 50-goal benchmark this past season with 48 lamplighters in 70 games. The affable Czech winger tied future hall of famer Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals to become a co-winner of the Rocket Richard Award given to the NHL player with the most goals. David Pastrnak is the first-ever Boston Bruins player to win the Rocket Richard. The Bruins leading scorer with 95 points, also led the NHL with 20 power-play goals and 10 game-winning goals and his 38 power-play points were third-best in the league.
Given the fact that Panarin – who had 32 goals and 63 assists this past season – was a Hart Trophy candidate as league MVP, it’s not a surprise that he is ranked ahead of Pastrnak just as he was in the Hart Trophy voting. With a still rebuilding and young Rangers squad, the 29-year-old Panarin clearly meant more to his team than David Pastrnak did on a line that had Bergeron and Marchand, and a team that also had David Krejci and Charlie Coyle up the middle. Let’s not forget the offensive skill Pastrnak had feeding him on the backend with now-former Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.
Former NHLer and current NHL Network Analyst Stu Grimson seemed most amazed with Pastrnak’s vision and the way the 24-year-old is able to think the game.
“The skillset is there, without question,” Grimson said. “Skates exceptionally well, top-end talent in that respect. Great playmaker, a great shot, loves to get it off in stride. …It’s the way he processes the game. Finds time and space, makes utilization of that time and space and finds a way to execute.”
What is surprising, one could argue, is that Patrick Kane (33g, 51a) finished ahead of Marchand who lit the lamp 28 times and had 59 helpers. The 34-year-old veteran winger just continues to lead by example and has gone from being a pesky fourth-liner to an elite winger.
There were times this season, when Pastrnak or Bergeron just didn’t have it that night, that Marchand picked the line and his team upon his small soldiers with his giant heart and skill. One could even argue that Marchand should’ve received more Hart Trophy consideration as he was a key cog on a roster that ended up winning the President’s Trophy in the Covid-ridden season. Here’s what Grimson had to say about a player that easily could’ve slid into the top 5:
“One of the more undersized wings on this board (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) but you know it never really seems to come up in his game,” Grimson said. “He’s really sturdy on his skates, a great knack around the net, but I love how he uses that low center of gravity and one of his great attributes, his puck protection.”
So BHN readers, did NHL Network slot Marchand and Pastrnak in where they belong?