What’s next for David Pastrnak?
David Pastrnak is a stylish individual.
Pastrnak is one of the game’s best dressed, often rocking one of his many stylish hats. If Pastrnak is in the market for some new hats, he had plenty to choose from Wednesday night at TD Garden.
However, I think the hats that littered the Garden ice after Pastrnak scored goals 39, 40 and 41 aren’t quite his style.
Scoring goals has been more of his style, though. Pastrnak’s three-goal evening Wednesday night was his fourth hat trick of the season and second against Montreal in those four.
Pastrnak becomes the first player to earn two hat tricks in a single season against the Canadiens since Gordie Howe did so in the 1951-52 season.
Goal 39 was the one that set a new career high for the 23-year old Pastrnak. Goals 40 and 41 were just as fun.
"Obviously it's a huge honor, especially in an organization like the Bruins, you know, with a history like that,” Pastrnak said Wednesday night. “Obviously couldn't have done it without my teammates. [40 goals is] something I hadn't accomplished yet in my career, so obviously excited. But how I said, I couldn't have done it without my teammates and big thanks to them."
Now that Pastrnak has hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career, 50 seems to be the next big milestone in Pastrnak’s sight.
Getting to 50 shouldn’t be an issue.
“Now he’s at forty and who knows what’s next, right? There’s still a lot of hockey left. I think the way he started this year, we’d all thought he’d be in that area anyway, challenging for fifty,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“That’ll be the next conversation I assume, and good for him. He deserves it. He’s done a lot of things well and he goes to the right spots, worked on his shot, worked on his strength to handle pucks. Let’s see him keep going.”
Pastrnak’s three-goal night helped him leap frog both Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin in the race to the Rocket Richard Trophy which is awarded annually to the player who finishes the season with the most goals in the league.
Since the award was created in the 1998-99 season, no Bruin has won the award. Pastrnak (41) holds a one goal edge over both Matthews and Ovechkin (40.) The Capitals sniper has won the award six out of the last seven seasons and eight times overall.
“He’s really become an elite player in the league. The fact that he’s able to continue and find ways to score when teams are really zoning in on him, it’s very impressive. There’s very few guys in the league that can do that,” Brad Marchand said of Pastrnak.
“Even his defensive game is continuing to come along. He cares about that aspect. He wants to win. He’s a great teammate. He’s going to be a hell of a player for a long time.”
At 23-years old, the sky is the limit for Pastrnak and the future is so very bright. As Ovechkin sits two goals away from becoming just the eighth player in league history to reach the 700-goal mark, who could possibly be next?
“Well, I’m going to say Pasta (173 goals) because I love the kid, and he’s young, and he’s scoring. So, I think it’s always about health, it’s always are you surrounded by good players to help you,” Cassidy added.
“I haven’t looked close enough to [Steven] Stamkos’ [419 goals) age to see what – because you always have to project, but in terms of the younger guys, [Patrick] Laine (134 goals) could be that guy because he has such a terrific shot. Is [Nikita] Kucherov (215 goals) in that mix; does he score enough, or does he pass too much? Brayden Point (111 goals) scores a lot of goals, but he’s also a disher at times, so I think it does take a certain amount of shot-first mentality if you’re going to challenge that many. Auston Matthews (151 goals) probably has to be in that conversation as well, the way he shoots the puck.”
If Pastrnak can consistently score 50+ goals a season, we are looking at about 10 more years before we see a then 34-year old Pastrnak flirt with 700 goals.
For the time being, we are going to enjoy what Pastrnak is doing now and enjoy his first 40-goal campaign.
"That means he's moving forward," Cassidy said of Pastrnak reaching the 40-goal mark "That's what you want, your younger players to keep taking steps. There's a lot of growth in his game that I like. Obviously, we want to see him continue to score; it helps us win games.”
As Marchand mentioned, Pastrnak has improved the defensive side of his game, adding another weapon to his arsenal. His emphasis on being better in the d-zone was on display Wednesday night, adding to what was an all-around A+ night from Pastrnak.
Pastrnak’s second goal of the night was a play he started himself in the d-zone, and finished in the o-zone.
The more and more Pastrnak develops his game both offensively and defensively the more dangerous he will become. Playing the best hockey of his career, there’s still a lot more developing for Pastrnak to do.
I mean he is a 23-year old kid.