When Peter Chiarelli addressed the Boston media Tuesday to announce the signing of Matt Barkowski, the Bruins general manager sprinkled in another piece of news. First round draft pick and development camp standout David Pastrnak was signed to an entry level contract, meaning he can compete for an NHL roster spot later this summer.
The deal signals Pastrnak will be at the Bruins' training camp, vying for one of the final names on the 2014-15 depth chart. With some open forward spots in the bottom six, and a good showing of his skill at development camp, Chiarelli and co. made the decision to give Pastrnak his first pro contract, and see what he can do later this summer.
His place at training camp won’t signal the beginning to his entry level deal: that kicks in if Pastrnak plays over nine games in the regular season. The move also saves some Bruins money, as if he was inked after July 15, Boston would have had to pay additional money to the Swedish hockey federation.
“He’s a good young player, he’s just 18 years old and he’s a player; it’s well-documented that we’re looking for skill and speed and he fits that bill, but let’s not put the cart before the horse with David,” Chiarelli said. “We’re fortunate to get him where we got him and he had a terrific camp, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
So along with the likes of Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner, and Alexander Khoklachev, Pastrnak will throw his stick in the ring, and attempt to make the team out of camp. That may be a long shot, but is also a strong indicator the Bruins really don’t know who will claim those final roster spots. Chiarelli may have hedged his bet by tempering expectations for the teenager, but his inclusion into the conversation says all it needs to.
Pastrnak’s ability to play on the wing, along with his aforementioned speed and skill, was enough to keep his name in the mix. With Spooner and Khoklachev natural centers, keeping either player at the NHL level would likely come with moving Chris Kelly or Gregory Campbell to the wing. With Boston missing out on some free agent targets to fill a hole on the right wing of the third line, Pastrnak is a clean fit.
It’s hard to put too much stock into his development camp performance, where he was going up against collegiate and minor league players, largely in individual drills. The opportunities to prove himself against stiffer competition will come later this summer.
“He’ll end up coming to camp now, and he’ll get the experience of a training camp, and he’ll get some games,” said Chiarelli.