General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced the assignment of David Pastrnak to Providence Monday morning. Pastrnak flew back with the team on Sunday from Arizona after their four-game road trip out West.
The P-Bruins were headed to St. Johns, Newfoundland in advance of a back-to-back against the IceCaps on December 9 and 10 before returning home.
Pastrnak's presence should give them a boost. They lost six straight before snapping the skid with a 3-2 win over Portland on Sunday.
He was a point-per-game player with Providence, leading the team with 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) through 17 games, along with a plus-12 rating.
Hit with their own injuries this season, the P-Bruins are currently without forwards Ryan Spooner, Brian Ferlin, Bobby Robins, and Ben Sexton has been out since October. On the back end, they remain without Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky, all still recalled to Boston.
Pastrnak was up with Boston for two weeks after being recalled on November 24 and suiting up in his first career NHL game that night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He played in five NHL games, earning his first NHL assist and point against the Anaheim Ducks on December 1, before being a healthy scratch for Boston's final game of its road trip out West against the Arizona Coyotes. The 18-year-old was the youngest player in the NHL when he was up, and continues to be the youngest player at the AHL level.
He saw time on different lines, playing with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser and Chris Kelly.
Pastrnak can play four more NHL games without his entry-level contract kicking in. If he suits up in Game No. 10, his NHL contract will begin for this season.
In the week leading up to Pastrnak's first NHL recall, Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney provided insight on his situation.
"Long term plans are still being decided," Sweeney had said. "So we will continue to monitor his overall development, including any potential fatigue due to the more condensed schedule, and we will re-visit what is best for David and the Bruins periodically."
"David retains the option to return Sweden to play but he has really embraced the opportunity to play pro here with the intent of progressing and adapting more quickly to an NHL style of play," Sweeney said.
"Both opportunities would have continued to help with his development but we feel fortunate that he has decided to stay because the communication and reinforcement of habits, on and off the ice, will likely accelerate his adapting to the smaller rinks and the strength of the players in North America."
After Pastrnak's first look at the NHL level, he has plenty to take with him wherever the path leads, whether that's back to Boston, in Providence, or over in Sweden (or, in the short-term, possibly playing for the Czech team in Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship).
"I think the reason he was up here [with us] is that we wanted to have a look at him, and there’s a lot that has to be taken into consideration here," Head Coach Claude Julien said in Arizona. "Like, he’s only an 18-year-old, so is he better suited to stay here? Is he better suited to go back to Providence or wherever the upper management decides? I think there’s a lot of things that have to take place here."
"But we’ve seen some good things from him — exciting player, he’s got good speed but he doesn’t have the experience right now, and there’s times too where guys are stronger and he’s probably not quite as strong as the rest of the group," said Julien.
"I don’t think he’s afraid — he goes into corners, he goes into the traffic and all that stuff. The thing is, for younger players sometimes, it’s how do you get on the inside? These are strong players in this League...he didn’t shy away from anything, but at the same time, it was hard from him to get on the inside and get into great scoring areas, and you get that from experience."
"You learn, you find ways, and you work on getting stronger…So you've got to allow young players to grow and to develop into the person that or the player that you want him to be, and that doesn’t happen overnight."
Pastrnak has the drive to do that. He'll work his way back to Boston; it's just a matter of time.
Chicago On Tap
The Bruins have a rare four-day layoff before facing the Blackhawks. In a busy season, with 16 back-to-backs and 19 sets of three games in four nights, it marks just the second-longest stretch all season without a game. The only other layoff longer that that falls during the All-Star Break at the end of January.
Coming off a road trip that saw them salvage two points with a 5-2 win in Arizona, the Bruins regained some pride before heading back home to host one the West's powerhouses. They will hopefully use the rest and two practice days in their favor.
"Pride was definitely a word that was thrown around," Reilly Smith said following the win. "I don't think it was such a horrible road trip. The first two games [against Anaheim and Los Angeles], the process was good - we just didn't get the results that we needed, and the third game against San Jose we came out hard but couldn't put a full 60 minutes together.
"So we were able to put both of those together, and it's a good stepping stone for our next game because it's going to be a tough one against Chicago."