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David Pastrnak Staying With Boston

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - David Pastrnak is remaining with Boston beyond his ninth NHL game.

General Manager Peter Chiarelli made the announcement during the first intermission of Thursday night's 3-0 shutout of the New York Rangers at TD Garden. The game marked the ninth of Pastrnak's young NHL career.

When he suits up in game No. 10, his entry-level contract will kick in for the 2014-15 season.

"We’re going to commit to him to play up here," Chiarelli said in his opening address to reporters in the press box. "I feel that he’s done very well in his apprenticeship in Providence, which I think has been the most important progressive step in his development."

"He went down there and he did what we told him to do, which was play without the puck, play heavier - play on the wall, the defensive wall, offensive battles - and then he came up here and played in the West coast trip and I think he got his feet wet a little bit, went back down and dominated down there again."

Pastrnak's strength has always been the most frequented topic when discussing whether or not he would be ready to play in the NHL. He's gained weight since joining the organization. He's now 172 pounds. But his smarts have made him able to adjust and focus on not putting himself in vulnerable positions.

"In making this decision, we really scrutinized his play in Providence and we felt that he was able to play and excel at that level with the proper physicality for him and against the proper physicality," Chiarelli said. "He’s going to be up here and we’re happy to make that decision and we’re going to continue to look at it as a development piece, which means that, as we’ve done before with some of the younger players, it doesn’t mean you’re in the lineup all the time."

"There may be points in time when his play dips a little bit and we may sit him down for a game or two here or there, but I think the important thing to take away from this is that he’s going to be up with the big team, practice with the team, and hopefully play on a regular basis."

Pastrnak put up back-to-back two-goal games prior to the Bruins' win over the Rangers, igniting the team with his energy, putting fans on the edges of their seats with his play and causing his teammates to root for him. His bench boss saw him making a strong case for himself.

"While those two games where he scored two goals, and he was explosive and was very good, we really looked closely at that time in Providence because that’s the time where you build a foundation," said Chiarelli. "He had done everything we asked him and more, and he was a dynamic player. It’s a tough decision because these are young players and you have to be careful with them."

The decision for Pastrnak to stay in Boston happened prior to his ninth game. Before he left the rink after morning skate, Chiarelli relayed the news.

"What I explained to him is what I just mentioned to you is that this is the next step in a development piece and it doesn’t mean that you’ve got a lock," the GM stressed. "Nothing’s guaranteed in life, but you’ve earned it, you went down and did what we told you to do."

Since being drafted 25th overall in the June 2014 draft in Philadelphia, Pastrnak has embraced everything about the Bruins and everything he needs to do to reach this level and beyond.

So, just as he took in the messages during his first draft interview half a year ago, and the messages at the draft and development camp and training camp and his time in Providence and his first stint with Boston, Pastrnak took Thursday's message to heart.

"Right now I am going to be with the team but I have to just keep working hard, you know," Pastrnak said of the message from management. "And I want to stick with the team for the season but obviously I have to keep working hard and I have to still fight for a spot on the team."

Besides Pastrnak, just one other player from the 2014 draft is playing in the NHL - first overall pick Aaron Ekblad with the Florida Panthers.

"It’s nice to get a really good player at that pick and he’s still got work to do and stuff but he’s a real good kid," said Chiarelli. "A conscientious kid, very respectful, very humble and at the same time he can be infectious with his personality, so he’s got a lot going for him."

Since the day he joined the organization, Pastrnak's passion has been on display with a smile consistently plastered on his face. That, coupled with his dynamic offensive play, has his teammates and head coach excited for his potential.

"He’s a young player that certainly has improved from day one to now - he showcased his skill level, he showcased his speed," Julien said, noting the heavier games like Thursday night's matchup with New York will continue to be a challenge for him, at least in the short term.

"But he’s definitely a great player. I think we all want him here. The decision that was made was pretty unanimous as far as should we keep him past the 10-game mark."

"As far as I was concerned as a coach, I wanted him on my team. I think management felt the same way. They had to look at different situations, obviously the 10 games and what it does, everything else.  But at the end of the day, the consensus was this guy belongs here."

"And it’s going to be up to me to manage it the way I should manage it, help him continue to improve and grow and get some experience, and if he has some tough nights make sure I don’t expose him. That’s part of a young player who’s only 18 years old, that’s part of his development and us doing the right thing for him."

Pastrnak has plenty of resources to help him in his development besides the coaching staff. The Bruins' veterans have already served as role models for him, namely, fellow Czech native David Krejci, Pastrnak's childhood idol and now centerman.

"It’s definitely good news. He’s really excited but he also knows that he has to prove that he belongs here every day, in practice and in the games and he knows it," said Krejci.

"It’s exciting, it’s exciting for me as well, and I have a Czech buddy," he added with a smile. "So, looking forward to finishing the season with him."

"I’m really happy for him. It’s well-deserved," said Patrice Bergeron. "He’s one of those kids that wants to learn, wants to get better, and he’s excited. He’s happy to be here, and I think we’re just seeing a shell of what he can be, and that’s definitely something very special."

"And we’re all here for him to help him and to teach him the way. But so far he’s been doing great, and he doesn’t need much help."

Pastrnak's drive - on and off the ice - has gotten him this far. It will take him much farther.

"Since I’ve been drafted, I try to do the best that I can to show they picked the right player and just kind of motivation to show to everybody," said Pastrnak.

The right wing first impressed enough during development camp in July that he caused Chiarelli to take a second look at his options following the departure of Jarome Iginla.

"What it did, is like wow, I've got to take a second look at this, understanding that he's 171 pounds," Chiarelli had said at the time. "You don’t want to place too much of a burden on this kid’s shoulders, but he was good."

Pastrnak embraced the process set out in front of him. He went through the Bruins' rookie camp, training camp, preseason, and then stayed patient in Providence, opting to not go back to his team in Sweden.

He's progressing quicker than expected.

So, once again, Chiarelli and his staff are reassessing their options, while always looking to improve the team.

"We’ll see how this group continues to evolve… it’s not as pressing as before. How’s that?" the GM said, when asked if he was still committed to acquiring a veteran right shot winger.

Solidifying a spot on Krejci's right wing won't be easy for Pastrnak, but with the work ethic and development he's already shown with and without the puck, who knows?

He still feels pressure. Making it this far hasn't set off a sense of relief.

"I’m just going to keep working hard, and it doesn’t mean anything that I am going to stay with the team all season now, so I am just going to keep working hard and play for the team," said Pastrnak.

His maturity should help him develop.

"We take him as a normal guy," said Krejci. "Even though he is 18 years old, he is mature enough to be in this League and he gets around pretty good in the dressing room, all the guys like him. He always comes in with a smile on his face so it’s really good to have him around."

"I want to stay here for the whole season," said Pastrnak. "So I have to keep working hard and every day leave 100% for the team."

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