BOSTON — Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney offered an update on forward David Pastrnak’s status when he spoke with reporters on Sunday at TD Garden following Boston's 2-1 win over New Jersey.
Pastrnak recently joined the Providence Bruins on a conditioning loan and suited up in their game against Springfield on Saturday — a 4-2 loss in which he notched a goal. It was Pastrnak’s first time playing in game action since Oct. 31.
The forward suffered a fracture in his left foot blocking a shot on Oct. 27 and ended up missing seven weeks in his recovery. His availability for the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland is still in question, though the Czechs have expressed interest in wanting the winger on their squad.
“We’ve been in communication with the Czech national team — World Juniors team — and we have to wait and see where he’s at, as well as where our club is at, health-wise,” said Sweeney. “If we get to the 28th [of December]— when the [NHL] roster freeze is up, there’s still a chance for him to go [to Finland].”
“There’s also a chance, depending on our health, for him to stay.”
“So again, it’s up in the air,” Sweeney said. “It’s based a little bit [on the fact that] he hasn’t played hockey in seven weeks. [Saturday] night was his first game back, so certainly it’s about his health first and foremost, but he may be made available at that particular time.”
The NHL’s roster freeze around the holidays went into effect at midnight on Dec. 19 and will end at midnight on Dec. 27 (local time).
The Czech Republic’s first World Juniors game in Helsinki, Finland will take place on Dec. 26.
“Their tournament starts on the 26th. They’ve indicated to us that if he is made available on the 28th, that they would want him,” said Sweeney, who confirmed that Pastrnak would be suiting up again for Providence on Tuesday (Dec. 22).
Either way, Pastrnak will be getting playing time in Providence or overseas to get himself back up to game speed before rejoining Boston.
“I think you can look at both sides,” said Sweeney. “I mean, he just hasn’t played hockey in seven weeks, so it’s about his health, first and foremost. He’ll get the benefit of playing a couple games [with Providence], and then we’ll see from there.”
Sweeney was asked how many games it might take — either in the AHL or at World Juniors — before Pastrnak returns to Boston.
“You know what, it’ll just depend,” said Sweeney. “Again, everybody’s different in terms of when they return to that level. Part of it is about the health of our squad at that particular time as well. So it’s just about him getting back to the level that we know he can get to.”
Pastrnak’s return will also be a byproduct of Boston’s needs up front.
The Bruins currently have 12 forwards on their roster, with Zac Rinaldo and Joonas Kemppainen both still on Injured Reserve.
“Everything is still up in the air based on the health of our squad here, first and foremost, and his health,” said Sweeney.