BostonBruins.com – Peter Cehlarik is ready to take the next step in his career.
The 20-year-old Slovakia native on Thursday signed a three-year entry-level with the Bruins, beginning with the 2016-17 season.
Since being drafted in the third round (90th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Cehlarik has suited up for Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. But later this summer, he’ll be transitioning to North America to kick off his career in the Bruins organization.
“I’m extremely excited and humbled to be a part of the Bruins,” Cehlarik said by phone Friday morning from Slovakia.
“I believe the last two years playing pro in Sweden really helped me and will help me to play pro in North America. I think I’m ready to make this change and start a new chapter in my career.”
Cehlarik has participated in the past three Bruins Development Camps, but has never had an extended taste of North American hockey. Adjusting to the different style of play and the smaller ice surface is a challenge he is embracing.
“I haven’t played many games there on the smaller ice, but in the World Championship, playing against Canada, I could see the speed they have there and that’s going to be the biggest adjustment for me,” said Cehlarik.
The forward must also acclimate to his new life off the ice.
“I know some people, some staff [in Boston],” said Cehlarik. “The last three years at Development Camp I’ve been able to meet some people and they’ve been real helpful.
“They talk about what it takes to be a pro. It was pretty similar to playing pro in Sweden, how to act on the ice, off the ice – nutrition, how to eat, how to practice properly. I think I understand what it takes.”
The last year has been vital to Cehlarik’s overall development. The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder feels he has become a more complete player, with a particular focus on shoring up his defensive game.
“I tried to be a more complete player,” said Cehlarik. “I love playing offense, but being good defensively too. It’s what they teach me in Sweden, it’s kind of their style – my game around the net and trying to get into position to score or make a play.”
In his fourth season with Lulea, Cehlarik had a plus-7 rating, the second highest of his career. He also notched career-highs in goals (11) and points (20) over 46 games.
“It was very helpful to be playing a lot,” said Cehlarik, who also represented Slovakia at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. “I worked a lot on my footwork and my skating…I believe I improved a lot these last two years. Again, it’s going to be a challenge for me, but I’ll take that and work hard.”
Cehlarik has been in contact with the Bruins on a regular basis since he was drafted three years. European scouts P.J. Axelsson and Svenake Svensson, as well as Jay Pandolfo, then the Bruins Director of Player Development, attended a number of Cehlarik’s games to check in on his progress.
“It’s always been about being more aggressive and being strong on the puck, it’s about not making any risky plays,” said Cehlarik. “You want to develop as a player, but at the pro level it’s about not making too many mistakes. It’s how you stay on the team and get trust from the coach.”