Make no mistake about it, this move is huge. Peter Chiarelli announced via a press conference that the Bruins would not send Pastrnak back down to Providence before his 10th game of the season in Boston, indicating that this will be the 1st season of Pastrnak’s 3 year, entry level contract. This is a classic case of a team deciding to go for it now while risking the future… and I think most Bruins fans are ok with that now.
After Pasta’s first 5 games, I was down on the idea. He had played well, but he wasn’t gonna be the answer at right wing, and burning a year off of his ELC time was a high price to pay. After the next 4, he changed my mind. And I’m not just talking about his 4 goals in 2 games, but Pastrnak was actually around the puck all the time, where as before, he was a little more passive.
But now, check Pastrnak’s stats. Look at where he fits in with the rest of the Bruins. Sure, he is starting 68.4% of his non neutral zone shifts in the offensive zone, but when you’re beating even Patrice Bergeron in corsi, that says something. He will not be one of the best 3 Bruins forwards for the rest of the season, and probably not even one of the best 6. But for what they need? He can fit in quite well.
The fact that Pastrnak is a right wing is what puts this over the top for me. They need a scoring right winger, and they need it bad. If he was LW, too bad, there’s already Lucic, Marchand, Kelly, and Paille locked in there. If he was center, get in line, son, this is the Bruins and they always have tons of centers. But RW? A scorer who can also make things happen on the power play? Give the kid a shot.
He’s not the power forward that Iginla or Horton was, but he’s also not Craig Cunningham, Simon Gagne, or whatever other guy the Bruins would put there who should never be on what’s supposed to be the top scoring line for a contender. The only other suitable options on the roster are Loui Eriksson, who Claude understandably doesn’t wanna separate from Soderberg and Kelly, and Seth Griffith, who was holding his own, but isn’t as good as Pastnak. Claude definitely should put Cunningham at 4C (he’s also a natural center) and Griffith at 4RW for a different kind of 4th line than the one we’ve seen in recent years, but Claude won’t do that. Instead, Campbell plays. Dammit all.
So I like the fact that Pastrnak is on the team for the rest of the season, but there is one more wrinkle that Chiarelli might have considered… why not keep Pasta down in the minors for 6 weeks, then call him up if the Bruins don’t get someone at the deadline? Part of me is worried that Chiarelli will (intelligently) trade for someone on the right wing at the deadline, and then Pastrnak’s Top 9 spot is gone. And playing him 4th line minutes is not worth burning a year of ELC.
While I would have been totally fine with this option, I’d still say that it’s smart to call him up, because the game isn’t played by robots. It’s never a good idea to tell a team with a championship pedigree that you’re not going for it all DURING the season. Sends a horrible message. If the Bruins players know that David Pastrnak can help them win more games this season, let the kid play.