BRIGHTON, MA – Here’s a clear warning to all the other Atlantic Division teams as training camps open across the NHL, and to really every player across the league paid to defend the puck from the back of the net: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak looks primed and ready for a massive season.
That should be the best news to start B’s training camp as the storylines will be about injuries, rehabs and the bodies missing to start the regular season.
The 25-year-old rolled into Boston last week tanned, smiling and excited about the upcoming season as he enters the last season under contract with the Boston Bruins coming off 40 goals and 77 points in 72 games last season. At the end of the season the numbers looked very Pasta-like and he finished with a very respectable three goals and six points in the seven game first round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The highlight reel goals were there as Pastrnak built up chemistry with wing man Taylor Hall and makeshift center Erik Haula.
— NHL (@NHL) February 9, 2022
But the previous two summers had been difficult for David Pastrnak for a multitude of reasons both professional and personal, and those experiences absolutely impacted his usual happy-go-lucky zest for the game. This summer Pastrnak reconnected with his love for the game while teaming with good buddy David Krejci for Czechia while winning a bronze medal at the IIHF World Championships, had down time with an awesome vacation to a beautiful part of Italy for Tuukka Rask’s wedding, saw Krejci return to the fold with the Boston Bruins and simply had a normal offseason for the first time in years.
“It was the highlight of my last season, to be honest, the joy he brought back to me playing hockey at World Championships is really what I was looking for when I went there honestly,” said Pastrnak. “We are close friends and I’m really happy he came back. There are some younger players here now and we obviously can learn from these three guys (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci). I am so pumped that he’s back.”
For Pastrnak, that has made all the difference in the world.
“It was a little more of a normal summer, you know?” said Pastrnak. “It’s been great to spend time with family and friends in a little more normal circumstances. I hadn’t had a normal summer for a couple of years, so my biggest thing was to get prepared for this season physically-wise and mentally-wise.
“It hadn’t been easy, but the motivation this [summer] was through the roof as compared to the last couple of years. I had the hip surgery and even last year was tough, so this summer I was finally able to work hard and focus on my game.”
Certainly, it bodes well for Pastrnak skating on the right side with his buddy Krejci and with a player in Taylor Hall that he developed great chemistry with last season. They’ll need all three to be at their best with Brad Marchand out until Thanksgiving, and puck movers Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk missing to start the season as well.
In that first time at camp, Pastrnak answered all the perfunctory questions about his contract and confirmed that he does want to remain with the Boston Bruins for the long term. But in addition to Pastrnak being to his energetic, enthusiastic self, there is also motivation there given his contract situation.
Let’s say theoretically that Pastrnak wants to be the highest paid player on the Boston Bruins, wants to surpass $10 million per season and is looking at a contract similar to the eight-year, $84 million contract that Jonathan Huberdeau signed with the Florida Panthers. Let’s also say theoretically that the Bruins would prefer to utilize the Tampa Bay Lightning cap management method, which has every single one of their players sitting under $10 million per season ostensibly to allow them to build the deepest, best roster possible under the cap ceiling.
Certainly the Boston Bruins better hope that Pastrnak doesn’t have his eye on the kind of contract Nathan MacKinnon just signed with the Colorado Avalanche, a $12.6 million per year deal that would conceivably lock up the B’s cap situation and have Pastrnak/Charlie McAvoy chewing up 25 percent of their cap space.
Regardless, though, of what the contract outcome ultimately is for Pastrnak, he is absolutely motivated to show this season that he deserves whatever he wants. And the Boston Bruins will reap the benefits of that to the point where they might even be able to finally see the electric, game-breaking Pastrnak hit the 50-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. It’s a mark he was going to hit a couple of years ago when COVID hit the NHL for the first time and pulled the plug on the final weeks of the 2019-20 NHL regular season, and if anybody is going to hit that mark in a B’s uniform for the first time since Cam Neely it’s going to be him.
“My focus moving forward is to be ready for Game One,” said Pastrnak. “We’re going to be missing some key players, so I know I need to be on my game from the get-go. It’s going to be extremely tough, so I need to be ready. That is my biggest focus.”
The headline for all of this, however, is that Pastrnak is happy, healthy and juiced for the start of hockey this season, and that can mean nothing but great things for a Boston Bruins team that will need him at his best right out of the starting gate.