No. 1 pick Pastrnak hopes early arrival helps

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's going to be plenty of focus on David Pastrnak.

The Boston Bruins selected the skilled forward with the team's first pick (No. 25 overall) in June's NHL entry draft, and the 18-year-old native of the Czech Republic already seems to have the personality, intelligence and ability to handle everything that comes with playing in Boston.

The Bruins thought it best for Pastrnak to start skating with NHL players as soon as possible, so he arrived in Boston last Wednesday in order to prepare for the organization's upcoming training camp.

He's been skating with Bruins players, prospects and other local NHLers for the last week. Prior to the start of full camp on Sept. 18 at Ristuccia Arena, the Bruins will conduct their annual rookie camp, which will take place Sept. 12-16 in Nashville.

Pastrnak's early arrival gives him a chance to get comfortable in his new surroundings and will help ease his transition.

"Of course, that makes me feel good," he said. "I'm happy I can practice here with the Bruins. It's going to give me more than just being in Sweden and practicing there. Here, I'm with the NHL guys and can practice even harder. Here, I don't have anything else other than hockey, so I came here just for practice and to make the NHL."

After the draft, Pastrnak participated in the Bruins' rookie development camp in July. He impressed Boston's management and coaching staffs, and he will compete for a roster spot during camp. He has the offensive skill, but he's focused on being a consistent two-way player, similar to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

"I'm a skilled forward, but that's not what I want to show," Pastrnak said. "I want to show I can be a good defensive player. I'm going to be focused on my defense, and then the shots are probably going to come, so I'm not focused on scoring goals -- just focused on doing my job in the defensive zone."

When Pastrnak left the Czech Republic to play junior hockey in Sweden two seasons ago, he decided to learn English. He figured that knowing the language would help if his dream of being drafted by an NHL team came true.

"When I got to Sweden, all of the people there can speak English, so I decided it would be better to learn English because my dream wasn't to be in Sweden my whole life. So I started to go to school and learn English there."

Krejci has always been Pastrnak's hockey idol. But on Wednesday, during the second day of captain's practice at Ristuccia Arena, Pastrnak was finally on the ice with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

"He's kind of scary," Pastrnak said with a laugh. "I've talked to Zdeno and he's here to help me whenever I want. I said thanks for that, and all of the guys want to help out."