General manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed the team’s commitment to Pastrnak on Thursday night as his club reached the crossroads of either keeping him on the roster or sending him back down to Providence in the AHL. By keeping him up in the big leagues, the Bruins have locked in his entry level contract and have ensured that he’ll continue to develop at the National Hockey League level.
There are several collective bargaining agreement “milestones” to trigger in Pastrnak’s contract, the next of which arrives should he play 40 games in the NHL this season. If that happens, his free agency will trigger a year earlier.
The Bruins have every reason to have faith in Pastrnak. He’s been a beast on the scoreboard and has provided his team with an offensive boost, landing four goals in January since being called up from the AHL on January 8. He’s also been firing the puck well.
But making a decision like this is always going to be seen as a risk. By effectively burning a year of his entry level contract in keeping him, they’re confirming that he’s good enough to lace the skates in the NHL. Some stand by the notion that 18-year-olds are generally not good enough to lace the skates in the NHL, but the Bruins obviously believe differently in this instance.
Some are making the case that Pastrnak has had a lot to do with the recent successes of the Bruins, but there are obviously other factors at play. They’re one of the best puck possession teams in the league, for one, and they’ve got players like Zdeno Chara and David Krejci back in the fold and playing well.
Of course, the Bruins say that they aren’t simply basing the Pastrnak decision on how well he’s done in the NHL. His AHL play, with and without the biscuit, has turned heads. They feel he’s ready and they’re prepared to take the gamble.
“I feel he has done very well in his apprenticeship in Providence, which I think has been the most important progressive step in his development,” Chiarelli said.
How this pans out is still anybody’s guess, but right now Pastrnak has every opportunity to provide the doubters wrong. He has the pedigree to get the job done, he’s seeing quality ice time, he’s generating quality chances, and he knows where to be on the ice. That suggests good instincts. And matching him with the likes of Krejci and Milan Lucic hasn’t hurt in terms of boosting his scoring chances, either.