In the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, some popular names were selected at the top of the board. That draft class has produced some very talented young players who are in the league today, including Aaron Ekblad (selected first overall by the Florida Panthers) and point-leader Leon Draisaitl (selected third overall) of the Edmonton Oilers.
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With the 25th selection in the first round, the Boston Bruins hit the jackpot by choosing a right winger from the Czech Republic named David Pastrnak. Six years later, Pastrnak is having an MVP season and is on the verge of joining elite company in Bruins history. He is eight goals shy of the franchise’s 50-goal club.
50 Goals Almost Certain
Barring an injury or a major scoring slump, and with 23 regular-season games left, Pastrnak should be a lock to become the sixth player in team history to crack the 50-goal mark in one season. Recently, he scored three goals in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens and one in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings to raise his total to 42. He became the first Bruin to eclipse 40 goals since Glen Murray during the 2002-03 season.
Should Pastrnak reach 50 this season, he would be the first to do it since Bruins president Cam Neely turned the trick in the 1993-94 season. In each of his six pro seasons, he has shown consistency and seen an increase in goals. He had 10 goals in 2014-15 (his rookie season) and added 15 the following year. In 2016-17, he scored 34, before finding the back of the net 35 times in 2017-18. Last season, he scored 38 goals, a number he passed in 59 games this season.
He’s had no shortage of help. Playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand at 5-on-5, Pastrnak has been the beneficiary of the league’s second ranked power play as well. He has 18 goals, nearly half of his 42, with the man advantage. Playing with defenseman Torey Krug, who leads the Bruins with 22 power-play assists, and Marchand (19 power-play assists) has had a major impact as well.
The biggest help has been Marchand. This season, he is sixth in the league with 50 assists. Marchand has the ability to make plays and connect with his right winger to score goals, whether it’s been at 5-on-5 or the power play.
Can He Reach 60?
On his current pace, Pastrnak could score 57 goals this season. With that said, 60 is a long shot, but it can’t be ruled out. Earlier this season, he showed that he can score in bunches.
He scored 24 goals in the first two months, before five in December, eight in January and five so far in February. He already has four hat tricks. He scored four goals in a game against the Anaheim Ducks in October and has a pair of hat tricks against the Canadiens. These bursts could help him become the first Bruin to reach 60 goals since Phil Esposito scored 61 in 1974-75.
On his march toward 60, a lot of goals will have to be scored on the road. Twenty-six of his goals have been tallied at home at the TD Garden, while 16 have come on the road. The Bruins have six more road games than home games left, but being the gifted goal-scorer he is, he should be able to score on the road just he does at home.
Impressive Season Can Get Better
In the middle of a team-friendly, six-year, $40 million contract, Pastrnak is having a season to remember. He was named Atlantic Division captain for the All-Star game and took home MVP honors. He is also a candidate for the Hart Trophy.
Over the final month and a half of the season, he as a chance to join the elite company of historic Boston Bruins goal-scorers alongside Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk, among others, and he’s doing it at the young age of 23.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.