WILMINGTON, Mass. -- David Pastrnak’s experience in the United States has consisted of a trip to Philadelphia for the NHL Draft and a visit to Massachusetts this week for Bruins development camp.
But the 18-year-old native of the Czech Republic is making his case to stay in North America. In fact, the Bruins’ first-round draft pick might not have any choice in the matter for some time. He told reporters on Thursday that he lost his passport.
His agent told him that he might have “lost it on purpose” in an attempt to stick in Boston.
At 6 feet and 173 pounds, it’s a bit premature to imagine this year’s 25th overall selection sticking in Boston, but he’s turned heads in his two-day stint thus far.
“He’s fast, he plays at a very high rate of speed,” Bruce Cassidy, the head coach of the Providence Bruins, said after Thursday’s camp session at Ristuccia Arena. “He’s got great one-on-one ability, body control. He’s a high-end skill player. It’s hard to evaluate his overall skill at this point, obviously, because it’s mostly one-on-one, but you can see why he’s a high pick.”
Pastrnak played in 36 games with Södertälje (SSK) in Sweden last year, posting eight goals and 16 assists with its Allsvenskan (juniors) league squad. He also was a part of the Czech Republic’s bronze-medal-winning U-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Pastrnak made the move to the Swedish junior ranks for the 2012-13 season after playing with AZ Havirov in his homeland.
“There is a time when I changed my game,” Pastrnak said of his time with SSK. “I think I’m a two-way forward now. It’s important, you have to be a two-way forward if you want to make not just the NHL but any big league.”
The decision came with much debate, after considering coming to play junior hockey in North America. Pastrnak said the move away from home was difficult enough and admitted to being home sick.
If he’d come to North America earlier, Pastrnak added, “They would have crushed me here.”
Another benefit to playing in Sweden -- and aiding his potential move to the Americas -- was Pastrnak learning a new language. He took it upon himself to learn English, in order to talk with this teammates.
There’s another part of Pastrnak’s game that translates as well.
“If you can skate, you can play anywhere,” he said.
While Pastrnak’s raw skill is apparent, he’s only begun his physical development.
“You’re playing against men -- violent, angry men a lot of nights,” Cassidy said of life in the NHL.
However, the Bruins are depleted in a category Pastrnak can satisfy: right-hand-shot forwards. And that, in addition to his eye-popping skill that had him ranked fourth among European skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s midterm report last year, could bolster his odds to stay.
“That’s an area of need,” Cassidy said of the Bruins' depth on the wing, “so he has that going for him as well.”
Pastrnak wasn’t looking past this week’s camp.
“It’s hard to say, you never know,” he said of his chances for making the big club out of the chute.
“I just want to show them they made the right decision.