Todays SlapShot

Boston Bruins

Could David Pastrnak be the next ‘elite’ Bruin?

10 March 2016: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) [10786] celebrates his goal. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 (OT) in a regular season NHL game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

The 2014 NHL Draft was never really considered to be a “deep” draft, with only the top five picks expected to become “elite” NHLers, though many taken late in the first round had the potential to be very good.

One of those players was David Pastrnak, a skilled winger from the Czech Republic. Taken 25th overall, Pastrnak didn’t exactly have the highest of expectations headed into his rookie season.

He started in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, where he averaged over a point per game and showed that he was ready to play in the NHL. After being called up to Boston, Pastrnak would play in 46 regular season games with the NHL team, scoring 10 goals and adding 17 assists for a total of 27 points – impressive totals for an 18-year-old playing second and third line minutes.

Pastrnak has continued to impress in his sophomore campaign, and though injuries have limited the 19-year-old to 39 games, he’s still shown that he has the ability to rack up points. At first glance, 22 points doesn’t look like an incredible total, but we have to take into account the fact that Pastrnak is only averaging 13 minutes of ice time per game, and sees very little power play time.

10 March 2016: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) [10786] lets a slap shot go. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 (OT) in a regular season NHL game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

10 March 2016: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) lets a slap shot go. (Photograph by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

When we look at the amount of points Pastrnak produces at 5-on-5 as a per 60 minute rate, he ranks 12th among forwards who have played at least 500 minutes this season, ahead of notable names such as Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Vladimir Tarasenko.

In fact, over the course of his two-year, 85 game career, Pastrnak has been one of the league’s best point producers. The past two seasons, out of forwards who have played at least 1000 minutes, Pastrnak’s points per 60 minutes of 2.38 ranks him 8th in the entire league.

Now, one season’s worth of games isn’t exactly the largest sample, and focusing on only point production doesn’t factor in defensive play, or random fluctuations in shooting percentages.

With all that in mind, we can look at the puck possession metrics for Pastrnak over the past two seasons, and see where he stands compared to the rest of the league.

Among forwards who have played at least 1000 minutes the past two seasons, Pastrnak ranks 39th in relative Corsi For percentage, and 70th in relative scoring chances for percentage.

If there are 90 “first-line” forwards in the league (three first liners per team), then Pastrnak firmly ranks as a top line forward in puck possession metrics.

Overall, the statistical comparisons for Pastrnak border on elite. Using the Similarity Calculator at corsica.hockey, we can see historical comparisons for Pastrnak based on his puck possession numbers and point production.

The top 10 comparisons are listed below, along with the seasons they posted the numbers in, their points per game pace for an 82-game season, the total games played, and their total number of points accumulated.

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These are elite players to be compared to, especially in the first two seasons of a player’s career. The average points pace of these players is 63 points over an 82 game season. This year, there are fewer than 40 forwards on pace to hit that mark.

And these comparisons are based on only his first two seasons in the league.

He has time to grow as a player, and could end up being even better than some of the players listed above. Even if he doesn’t progress beyond what he is right now, he’ll still be one of the better players in the league, with an ability to drive possession and produce points at a high rate. If he develops further, then the sky really seems to be the limit for the Czech native.

David Pastrnak has been a steal for the Boston Bruins at 25th overall. He’s showcased elite potential, and if he continues to grow as a player, the rest of the league should be afraid of what he can do.

Statistics courtesy of war-on-ice.com, and are score adjusted at 5-on-5 unless specified otherwise

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