Two moves were made in the 2022 offseason by Boston Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney that added top-six forwards. First, he acquired Pavel Zacha in a trade from the New Jersey Devils for Erik Haula. Then, one month later, David Krejci agreed to a one-year contract to return after spending the 2021-22 season playing in his home country of Czechia. Little did anyone know at the time, those two moves paid big dividends for not only the Black and Gold but also David Pastrnak.
Those two moves, along with the hiring of Jim Montgomery paved the way for the trio to play together on the second line in 2022-23. After not getting an opportunity under former coach Bruce Cassidy to play together, Montgomery put Krejci and Pastrnak together and add in Zacha and the results spoke for themselves.
David Pastrnak’s 2022-23 Regular-Season
If there was one thing that we learned in Pastrnak’s first eight seasons in the NHL is that it was only a matter of time before he eclipsed the 50-goal plateau. In 2019-20, he was sitting on 48 with 12 games remaining in the season before the coronavirus shutdown in March. He finished the season tied with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals to share the Maurice Rocket Richard Award. After scoring 40 in 72 games last season, the 25th overall pick of the 2014 Entry Draft set a career-high and then some this season.
Playing in all 82 games, Pastrnak scored 61 goals and did so with an avalanche of goals in the final month of the season. He finished the season with three hat tricks, two of those coming in April against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on the road. He had 52 assists and finished with 113 points, which included 18 power-play goals and 19 power-play assists. In any other season, the 61 goals would be enough to win the Rocket Richard Award again, however, this wasn’t any other season. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers won the Rocket Richard Award with 64 goals and is the projected runaway Hart Trophy winner as well, an award that Pastrnak is a finalist for with McDavid and Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers.
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One area of concern that has plagued Pastrnak is his giveaways with the puck. He had an eye-popping 109 in the regular season and has 617 in his nine seasons in the league. The Bruins had a historic regular season so it’s easy to sweep the giveaway issue under the rug, however, going forward, it can turn into a real concern for Boston, despite what he gives you in the offensive end.
Pastrnak’s 2023 Playoff Series Against Panthers
In their first-round playoff collapse against the Panthers, Pastrnak scored five goals in the seven games and appeared to score what could have been the series-clinching goal in Game 7 in the third period. With the score tied 2-2, Brandon Carlo took a shot with a purpose that Sergei Bobrovsky saved, but the rebound went to his right toward a charging Pastrnak, who one-timed a slapper under the crossbar. Florida tied the game with a minute left in the game on a Brandon Montour goal and forced overtime.
In the extra session, Pastrnak had the Bruins’ best scoring opportunity early, but his shot that beat Bobrovsky hit the top knob of his stick and deflected wide. Later in the overtime, Carter Verhaeghe scored the series winner to complete the Boston collapse. Pastrnak’s turnovers were a bugaboo in the postseason as well with eight, but he was not the only one with giveaway problems that ended up costing them the series.
Bruins Have Pastrnak Locked Up
One of the stories during the season was Pastrnak’s future with the Bruins. That came to an end when he agreed to an eight-year contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $11.25 million a season through 2030-31. What does the Boston roster look like going into next season? That’s going to be the question, but one thing is for sure, Pastrnak will be a big part of it and as the front office builds their next “core group, it will be centered around their gifted goal scorer.