When the Bruins acquired the rights to Matt Bartkowski from Florida along with Dennis Seidenberg on trade deadline day last month, the Ohio State sophomore first got the news from a friend.
He had slept in that day because he had no class. And no one could blame the 21-year-old for grabbing some extra rest because there are way too few student-athletes that also tackle a grueling major like engineering.
“I always wanted to do either architecture or engineering and found out architecture is an eight-year course, so I said, ‘well, I can’t do that one,’” Bartkowski told TheBruinsBlog.net earlier this week. “My dad’s an engineer and my uncle is, so it’s pretty much the path I was meant to take I guess.”
Following in his father’s footsteps and pursuing that engineering degree might be the only thing stopping Bartkowski, a Florida seventh-round pick in ’98, from leaving the Buckeyes to join the Bruins’ organization early. Assistant general manager Don Sweeney told TheBruinsBlog.net that although the franchise respects whatever decision Bartkowski makes, the Bruins brass considers the 6-foot-1, 196-pound blueliner physically ready for the pro game. Bartkowski has thought about going after the money, and something major could change his mind this summer (the Buckeyes are changing coaches), but for now he’s still in a collegiate state of mind.
“Unless there’s some drastic change this summer, I’ve thought about it and talked to my parents and stuff about it, but I’m about 90 percent sure I’m staying,” he said. “We’ll see this summer.”
Sweeney projects Bartkowski as a solid two-way defenseman with all the attributes you want out of a backliner in both ends of the rink. He also rates the kid’s competitive edge as very high. After a 5-15-20 freshman season earned him a spot on the WCHA All-Rookie team, he rebounded from a slow start in 2009-10 to finish with 6-12-18 totals and 99 PIM in 39 games.
“I came in, I tried to play a little heavier this season. I tried playing at like 210 (pounds), and that was a little heavy,” he explained. “So I just gradually lost some weight during the season and ended up around 200. So that’s helped, playing-wise. … As a team we just buckled down, had better practices and turned it around a bit in the second half.”
Sweeney says that every Bruins scout that saw Bartkowski in person was “adamant” about acquiring the native of Pittsburgh and calls the blueliner a “big part” of that trade that sent Byron Bitz a second-round pick and a minor-leaguer to the Panthers. Last month, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli showed his keen interest in Bartkowski by meeting with his parents when the Bruins visited the Penguins.
“My dad likes doing that,” Bartkowski says. “He likes to talk to the organization and people to see what’s going on, just to put a face to the name.”
The Bruins would like to put Bartkowski’s name in their lineup sooner rather than later, but they’ll wait however long that takes. Bartkowski expects to make his first trip to Boston this summer for the team’s development. So there will still be no time for rest for Bartkowski, that could all pay off with an impressive degree and an NHL career.