David Pastrnak digs deep against the Florida Panthers (via: Boston Bruins)
It's a wonderful time to be a Bruins fan as we get to watch some of the NHL's finest youth talent develop into every day players. It's hard not to think about the future of the Bruins while watching the exciting speed of Ryan Spooner, the silky hands of David Pastrnak, and a grinder in Brian Ferlin. All of these players have earned a spot in the Boston roster this year, as well as Seth Griffith who was later sent down to Providence. Griffith has great speed and had a crafty ability make plays which makes him a threat of the future as well.
Exciting isn't the word to use when describing David Pastrnak. It's absolutely thrilling to watch Pastrnak, due to the fact that the he escapes some of the NHL's largest players with excellent lateral movements. Boston drafted him in 2014 in the first round, 25th overall. His speed has him flying up and down the ice, but the most enjoyable part of David's play is his positioning. There is never a time where he is out of position for a rebound and consistently finds a way to create space. A playmaker with a quick shot make for quite an offensive powerhouse and all at an age of 18. Although he doesn't boast super star numbers, 6 goals and 5 assists with a plus/minus rating of 8 in 24 games, Pastrnak has an extremely bright future. In the same amount of games with the AHL club Providence Bruins, he scored 10 goals and assisted on 17 more for 27 points. Boston finally has a scoring right winger back in the system and we can't forget that he will be playing along side his favorite NHL player in David Krejci, once healthy again. We all had that dream as kids, and he is living it!
Ryan Spooner is fast. You know, really fast. The Bruins had him play on the left wing during the preseason but he currently centers Pastrnak and Milan Lucic due to the David Krejci injury. Spooner is a natural center who loves to be the "quarterback" of the play, dishing out beautiful tape-to-tape passes and the ability to make quick decisions. He also can make defenders look silly in a one on one situation and isn't afraid to forecheck. Claude has voiced his opinions in the preseason, after scoring a goal in Montreal, that Spooner doesn't impress defensively. In fact, it shows in his numbers over the last couple of seasons. Boasting a strong 57 points in 56 games in Providence in 2012-13, his plus/minus was a mere +14. Again in the 2013-14 season, Spoons posted 46 points in 49 games but had a disappointing plus/minus of +13. If Spooner can work diligently on his defensive game, he can earn a permanent spot on the roster. As I stated in my last article, Spooner has the speed along with Pastrnak to keep Milan Lucic skating. A vital part of maintaining a playoff position this year will be the productivity of this line. How could you doubt it with a goal like this though?
A 4th round pick in 2011, Jacksonville, FL native Brian Ferlin is the young, tough grinder that our 4th line needs. A big body and a physical presence with the ability to play the puck is the perfect replacement of beloved Shawn Thornton. Ferlin also took the smart route of finishing his schooling at Cornell University and has played NCAA hockey up until last year. He also isn't afraid to step up for fellow teammates. Most importantly, he is affordable.
Speaking of affordable, the cap hit of all three of these players combines is only $2,560,000. This allows a little space to breathe when looking at the current cap situation. At the beginning of the season, Chiarelli mentioned several times that he wants to make the fourth line younger, faster, and more skilled. Yet, the departure of Shawn Thornton was the only move made in the poor attempt at doing so. With a full and healthy roster, there is no reason the fourth line shouldn't consist of at least Ryan Spooner and Brian Ferlin. It's time to move on from pieces of the roster that are easily replaceable. When you make a goal, you can't half-ass it, especially in a sport that is constantly growing and modernizing.
Although the Bruins have been plagued with injuries, there is a bright spot for the young talent to step in and show what they are made of. It's truly intriguing to watch young talent grow right in front of your eyes. Most don't have the opportunity to watch these players in Providence so watching them do well and fight with that hunger gives me confidence that we have a bright future ahead.