It was a cold night in January. I was in Buffalo for work, and in the hotel room I was watching the Bruins who were playing the Lightning. David Pastrnak was a rookie, and though he wasn’t lighting the NHL on fire, it was clear to me that he had incredible skill. I was on the phone with my son Mike, and I told him, “Keep your eye on this Pastrnak kid, he’s going to be a superstar”. Two goals and four points later, I felt even more secure about my prediction than I had two hours before, but like always, you never know.
Now six years later, I look pretty damn smart. Of course, plenty of others predicted the same thing, but I genuinely believed it at the time. There was something about how he played, how he carried himself, and the skill he displayed that made it clear to me, David Pastrnak was going to be something special. While most thought he was a steal at #25 for the Bruins in the draft, there were some who thought he could drop to #30 where the Devils could scoop him up. Bruins fans everywhere are thankful that it never happened.
Pastrnak takes over games with his skill the way an Ovechkin, Crosby, or McDavid can. That’s not overstating his ability, he belongs in the conversation with the elite players, and is, in fact, elite on his own. He is deadly on the power play, and few goalies have the reaction time to defend his one timers, they are virtually unstoppable. He’s bulked up, and isn’t afraid of contact, but knows how to avoid it when needed with his excellent skating ability. His creativity, combined with his absolute fearlessness, make him incredibly difficult to defend.
Still only 24, he’s averaging nearly a point per game in his career so far. Two-thirds of his career goals come on the power play, where he absolutely feasts on opposing teams. He’s scored on almost 15% of his career shots, a number that’s sure to keep rising as his career progresses, and already has 30 game winners. His game improves with each passing day, he’s added nearly 30 lbs to his frame since he was drafted, and he continues to add to his offensive repertoire.
As Ovechkin nears the end of his brilliant career, the NHL will be looking for a new face of the league. Crosby? Nope, incredibly talented, but not likable. Matthews? Maybe, but he seems so boring and vanilla, the NHL needs someone with a big personality to lead them forward. McDavid? Possibly, he’s as talented as anyone in the league, but being trapped in Edmonton doesn’t help. My choice? Yes, David Pastrnak. He’s a top talent, he has an infectious smile that is always on display, and he has become quite the fashionable dresser. He plays in Boston, an original 6 franchise, and he will continue to be a fixture at All-Star games for years to come.
Welcome to the future of the NHL, David Pastrnak.