By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins GM Don Sweeney gave David Pastrnak a vote of confidence before the 2016-17 season, insisting that the dynamic winger would be part of the team’s future and not a trade chip. Pastrnak rewarded Sweeney’s confidence with a breakout season at age 20, scoring 34 goals and 70 points in just 74 games (and counting).
The Bruins, in turn, rewarded the precocious Pastrnak for his impressive performance with his second Seventh Player Award on Thursday night before the game against the Senators. Pastrnak also earned the honor in 2014-15, when he potted 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games as an 18-year-old.
The only quibble I have with the award is that Brandon Carlo probably deserved it more. He certainly exceeded expectations to a greater degree than Pastrnak. Not sure anyone expected him to be as solid as he’s been as a 20-year-old rookie defenseman, which is a much bigger challenge than being a 20-year-old winger in his third season.
But hey, it’s just a silly award and Pastrnak himself probably doesn’t care all that much about it. Back to “Pasta” and the impact he’s had on the team. It’s been a rare sight in the Bruins organization to have a player as offensively dazzling as Pastrnak has been, and at 20 years old he has plenty of room to get even better. Next season, a point-per-game season and a shot at 40 goals should be on the table.
Pastrnak’s talent and creativity on offense were already known, but he also took steps forward in other areas of his game that don’t necessarily show up on the score sheet. He was responsible enough on defense to play on Patrice Bergeron’s right wing for much of the season. He forechecked and played hard in the corners and dirty areas of the ice, where not every player of his ilk is inclined to venture.
Pastrnak even continued to step up his physical game with 71 hits and 32 blocked shots. His hitting got him in trouble earlier in the season, but he’s still quite young and can learn to do those things in a way that’s not dangerous or detrimental to the team.
But overall, it’s been a thrilling leap forward for Pastrnak in his first full season with the Bruins. Plenty of his 34 goals have been of the eye-popping variety. And he’s also showing encouraging development in his all-around game. The Bruins will surely do all they can to make sure Pastrnak remains in the fold for years to come.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.