“Breakout Player” is an ongoing series we’ll be doing over the summer leading up to the 2015-2016 NHL season. Each blog will feature a young player in the NHL that we feel is in a position to have a breakout season this year. Today’s feature is Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak burst onto the scene in Boston as a fresh 18-year-old talent. He was taken in the first-round, 25th overall, in the 2014 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins while also being the first Bruin drafted under the new regime of director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky. And the pick paid off.
With the loss of Jarome Iginla to free agency and numerous injuries throughout the Bruins roster David Pastrnak was thrust into the Boston Bruins lineup sooner than anticipated. He went on to put up a solid stat line of 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points in 46 games. He did it all while being the youngest player in the NHL and AHL at the time. Although down the stretch he hit a “rookie wall”, failing to register a point in the final 5 games of the season, Pastrnak showed he belonged in the NHL even at such a young age and undersized build. He possesses a speed and scoring touch that can’t be taught. And as he adds strength to his lean 167 lbs. frame he will only get more explosive.
Now even though most players Pastrnak’s age don’t have breakout seasons in their sophomore effort it is completely possible it does happen for him this year. A skilled sniper like Vladimir Tarasenko put up just 8 goals in 38 games his rookie year. The next year he jumped to 21 goals in 64 games. Even though he only played 46 games due to being a mid-season call up Pastrnak scored at an 18-goal-season pace as a rookie. This year he’ll also have a full season of power play opportunities to cash in on as well. But one thing Pastrnak will have to do is work on his shot selection as he matures. He often would “shoot just to shoot” when he first got called up, taking many perimeter shots that NHL goalies snare with ease. Thus, his shooting percentage is in the 10% range. As he matures and strengthens he’ll be able to get a little more selective, get into better scoring areas, and find himself with a shooting percentage in the 13%-15% range where 20-goal scorers like Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, and Matt Beleskey live. This season he should be saddled up on a line next to David Krejci, one of the NHL’s best playmakers. And more than likely he’ll have Beleskey on the opposite wing complementing his speed and creating room with his physical game for the more skilled Pastrnak.
This reads like a recipe for a 20-goal, 45-point season. Even though he won’t turn 20 until next May the young Czech star could be setting himself up to become the next big thing in Boston.