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Professional Spotlight: David Pastrnak

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins -- David Pastrnak has been patient.

The 18-year-old first round draft pick has only been with the Bruins for six months, going from step to step, starting with development camp.

Last Thursday, the forward checked in from Providence. He had spent the past seven weeks with the P-Bruins after being one of the final cuts from Boston's training camp. He stayed in the AHL instead of rejoining Sodertalje SK in Sweden.

"You know, there's 22 players and everybody wants to get called up, so for sure, it's tough," Pastrnak said. "But I'm still young and I'm trying to do my best and if the chance comes, I will try to be ready for it. But for now, I'm here and I'll try to play my best and we'll see what happens."

He had been watching Boston’s games on TV.

"I try to see players that play the same position as me, right wing, and see what they do better than me, so I'm trying to get better myself, so I can be there once some day,” he said.

Three days after that conversation, Pastrnak was given the news that he was headed to Boston.

On Monday night, he made his NHL debut against Pittsburgh, seeing 7:53 in ice time, including 1:22 on the power play. He also received a shift with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

"It's my dream, which came true and I just have to keep working hard," Pastrnak said following his debut.

"I am happy for every minute, every second I’m on the ice.”

Adjusting to the North American game, he’s been learning to play with less time and space, and improve his defensive zone play.

"Every practice we are on the ice, they try to make us better,” said Pastrnak. “I try to watch all my shifts with the coaches and see what I did wrong, so I can [be] better like everybody else. Every practice, try to adjust with them and try to improve."

The stat sheet doesn't show a tough transition. He's been a point-per-game player, and was named AHL Rookie of the Month in October. Through 17 games, he led Providence with 18 points off a team-leading 13 assists and five goals, along with a plus-12 rating.

"Outside of the shoulder injury he received in training camp, we think David has adapted extremely well to pro hockey in North America," Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney told "He continues to work on the details of the game without the puck every day. David loves to play hockey and his enthusiasm is infectious."

At 5-10 and 176 pounds, Pastrnak has worked on and off the ice to get stronger. He was the youngest player in the AHL this season, and recently, became the youngest player in the NHL.

"David's hockey sense and skating quickness have allowed him to adapt to playing against older and stronger players," said Sweeney. "He processes the game quickly and his special talents have been on display almost every game."

"We have him doing extra shoulder rehab work as well as adhering to a diet and an off-ice strength program. We would like to see him continue to add healthy weight and some strength to his frame during the season."

"I'm trying to eat good and I feel better on the ice, too, you know?" said Pastrnak, who has gotten pointers from roommate Jordan Caron in Providence.

The off-ice adjustments have gone beyond nutrition. While he lived on his own in Sweden, he's now very far from home and from his family, though his mother will be visiting soon.

Pastrnak retains his option to return to Sweden. Playing over there would still continue his development.

"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," said Sweeney. "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."

Long-term plans are still being decided, and the Bruins will keep monitoring his development and revisiting what's best for him and the organization.

"I mean, it's kind of the happy life [here], you know,” said Pastrnak. “I'm far from my family and all of my friends, but I made new plans here and now it's different, but I play hockey, and that's part of the hockey life."

"So I have to remember why I'm here and it's because I want to play [in the] NHL."

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