Lost passports. Gushing over David Krejci. Apartment tours featuring notes from mom.
For Bruins fans, it ended up being the "(Late) Summer of Pastrnak." The kid was everywhere, rising from just another top prospect with a big smile to a guy with a serious chance at cracking the NHL roster. Instead, after an injury in camp led to him being limited to a couple of decent preseason performances, Pastrnak was cut.
Interestingly, he talked with the Bruin brass and accepted an assignment to the AHL rather than going back home to Sodertalje in Sweden.
With the Bruins season in full-swing and the AHL (unfairly, sometimes) falling off the radar, it's been easy to forget to keep an eye on Pastrnak's play with the PB's. So, how has he been doing?
Pastrnak is currently tied for seventh in AHL scoring with three goals and seven assists in ten games. Using highly advanced and tricky math skills, this means the kid is a point-per-game player right now. For a while, he was in the top three in scoring, but has fallen back a bit as of late.
Still, Pastrnak's performance in October was good enough to earn him his first professional North American accolades: He was named the MetLife Auto and Home Player of the Month for October. Not bad for an 18-year-old.
So, where does this leave Mr. Pastrnak? In the AHL for the foreseeable future, I'd assume. The signing of Simon Gagne, decent play of Seth Griffith and strong game Saturday night from Matt Fraser mean there are now quite a few guys standing between Pastrnak and an NHL spot. He's done fine in the AHL, but the assumption is that the Bruins want to leave him down there to bulk up and get used to the North American game before dropping him on an NHL line and saying, "have fun out there, kid."
The good news is that Pastrnak can stay in the AHL for a while before the Bruins burn a year off of the ELC he signed a couple months ago. From CapGeek:
"If a player aged 18 or 19 signs an entry-level contract with a club (with his age calculated on Sept. 15 of the year he signed the contract) but does not play in at least 10 NHL games — regular season or playoffs — the contract will "slide" or be extended one year. The extension does not apply if the player turns 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31 in the year he signed the contract."
Pastrnak signed his contract as an 18-year-old, and it doesn't look like he'll play in ten NHL games this season. The Tomas Tatar example used by CapGeek is notable: Tatar signed his ELC in 2009 and played full AHL seasons in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, but his ELC didn't start burning until the 2011-2012 season.
In theory, this means the Bruins could let Pastrnak play in Providence for this season and all of the next without it counting against his ELC. Presumably, this would allow him to get more acclimated to the North American style of play, bulk up with some good ol' American cheeseburgers, and be ready to challenge for an NHL spot shortly thereafter.
All of this is newsworthy because many people (myself included) were unaware that the AHL was even an option for Pastrnak; I thought it was NHL, juniors or Sodertalje. Instead, it now appears that the B's can develop Pastrnak just 50 or so miles away, and can do so without burning any time off of his affordable ELC, which could be a huge boon for the club.
It also means that, in theory, the Bruins could pull him up for a game or two or even nine before burning a year off of his deal. Chances are something like this wouldn't happen until the waning days of the season in April, unless the forward corps suffered unprecedented injuries.
The take-home point, however, is this: Pastrnak chose to stay here and work on getting his game NHL-ready rather than return to Sweden, where he presumably would have dominated. He's done quite well since making that decision, and the Bruins have to be happy with his development.
The PB's are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-2-1 record. Pastrnak's ten points are good for first in team scoring, two points ahead of frequent linemate Alex Khokhlachev.
EDIT: Throw another accolade on the pile: Pastrnak was named the AHL's Rookie of the Month today, a few hours after this piece was first published.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Stick tap to <a href="https://twitter.com/pastrnak96">@pastrnak96</a> of the <a href="https://twitter.com/AHLBruins">@ahlbruins</a>, named <a href="https://twitter.com/CCMHockey">@ccmhockey</a>/<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AHL?src=hash">#AHL</a> Rookie of the Month! <a href="http://t.co/Q71fnDSnq9">pic.twitter.com/Q71fnDSnq9</a></p>— AHL (@TheAHL) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheAHL/status/529363396375097344">November 3, 2014</a></blockquote>
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