David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

When the Bruins returned from their Western Conference road trip, most of the players rested. But 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak was assigned to Providence of the American Hockey League.

The assignment came just in time for Pastrnak to join the Providence Bruins on their two-game road trip to St. John’s.

In five NHL games, Pastrnak had one assist and 14 shots on net. However, seven of those shots landed on net in the second game of his call-up. By last Thursday in San Jose, Pastrnak played on the fourth line, skated for a little more than 13:00 and landed two shots on goal. Against Arizona on Saturday he was a healthy scratch.

In search of any source of offense or excitement, the Bruins gave Pastrnak a little run. But the 18-year-old definitely needs more seasoning and right now the Bruins don’t have the luxury of letting him improve in the NHL. He’s just not ready.

“I think if he was [ready] right now, I think we as a group would’ve kept him here,” coach Claude Julien said. “I don’t think you’ve seen the last of him either. I think from the start of the season to now he’s made some huge strides. And just the one thing that I think he really has to work on, and probably it’d be better for him to work on right now in the American League, is try to get on the inside. You know [there are] big, strong guys in this league and it’s OK to have some speed, it’s OK to be a playmaker. But if he’s going to produce for us, he’s going to have to find ways to get on the inside. You know he can definitely get a little stronger. He’s only 18 years old, so we know he will. And that’s just a matter of time. But at the same time it’s getting that experience about working on that part and you know I’m still really happy here that we got to see him.

“I liked his speed, again. I liked how he created some things. But there was a lot of things that – you know the first couple of games, you’re really excited to be here. And then as you play, the more you play, it’s almost like it sort of pans out a little bit and you see certain things. There was still a lot of shots, but a lot of shots were from the outside. Again, we want to develop this young player the right way and again I can’t say enough about him being 18 and being able to play that way. He’s got a bright future, no doubt. And his future should be here.”

There are so many uncertainties with the Bruins’ roster that forward Seth Griffith, who’s been up in the NHL since early October, hasn’t even been given the go ahead to find a permanent residence. He’s living in a team apartment with defenseman Joe Morrow. So there’s no telling what will happen down the road to stock the Bruins’ roster or clear the way via trades and other maneuvers. This team is clearly in flux, just as it was when training camp started.

So predicting whether Pastrnak will be in the NHL again this season is impossible. Nonetheless, we now know there’s no rush for the Bruins to clear the deck for the teenager.