Mid-August generally doesn’t bring a lot of hockey news, as the Entry Draft and the Free Agent Frenzy have both come and gone, and training camps are still weeks away. Amid this lack of news, NHL Network Analyst Brian Lawton sent out an intriguing tweet about the Bruins and their current restricted free agent David Pastrnak.
— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) August 14, 2017
Now Pastrnak is a great player, scoring 34 goals and 70 points at age 21, and the Bruins would be foolish to trade a player of his ilk for anything less than a king’s ransom. Now Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, a Boston sports news site, doesn’t believe the Bruins are trading Pastrnak, and this is just a negotiation tactic. Now I don’t believe Lawton nor Haggerty are making stuff up, but given the Bruins history with young, talented players and their affinity for trading them away (see: Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, and Dougie Hamilton), it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to see Pastrnak traded. But all of that aside, just how talented is David Pastrnak; is he as good as his 70 points in 75 games this season suggest, or is he closer to his 53 points in 97 games in his 2 years prior? Is he a product of his linemates, or is does he help drive his line? Let’s find out.
Part 1: Stats
In his career, David Pasternak has scored 59 goals and 123 points in 172 games, and is still only 21. At 18, he split time between the AHL and the NHL, scoring 11 goals and 28 points in 25 AHL games, and 10 goals and 27 points in 46 NHL games. He took a step back in his second NHL season, scoring 15 goals and only 26 points in 51 games, before his breakout year this season where he scored 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points in 75 games, good for 18th in the league in points. These are some impressive numbers for a player at such a young age, but let’s examine the numbers more closely.
There are a few things that stand out here:
- Pastrnak started almost 70% of his shifts in the offensive zone in his rookie year, once that number went down to 51% in his sophomore season, his production dropped as well. Last year, his oZS% went back up to nearly 58%, and, unsurprisingly, his production increased as well.
- His shooting percentage actually dropped from Year 2 to Year 3, which suggests it wasn’t an inflated shooting percentage for Pastrnak’s increased goal total.
- If you took the 1349 minutes Pastrnak played this season and dropped his P/60 down to his career average of 2.73, he would still have still had 61 points, which is still impressive production, and again suggests that his production this year wasn’t too much of an aberration.
- His SOG/60 have increased each year, but noticeably so this past year, so there’s potential for some regression there, as SOG/60 stats tend to stay around the same over the course of a player’s career.
Overall, Pastrnak’s increased production is likely not a fluke, his shooting percentage and P/60 were around his career norms, and while his SOG/60 were a little higher than normal, it wasn’t absurdly high. So, could David Pastrnak really be this good? Is he a consistent 30-goal/70-point guy, or is there another factor?
Part 2: Linemates
David Pastrnak had some elite linemates this past season, spending the majority of the season on the wing of the Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand duo, one of the best duos in the NHL. Both are possession monsters, with Marchand owning a career CF% of 57.3 and Bergeron a career 57.7%. Compare that to Pastrnak’s most common linemates in his first 2 years in the league:
2014/2015: Milan Lucic (Career 54.1 CF%) and Ryan Spooner (Career 51.0 CF%)
2015/2016: Loui Eriksson (Career 51.7 CF%) and David Krejci (Career 53.1 CF%)
It’s clear that as good as those other players are, Marchand and Bergeron are a cut above the rest. However, the thing to note is that both Marchand and Bergeron had career years in terms of CF%, with Marchand clocking in at 60.7%, and Bergeron at 61.8, which are both insanely good. But was it Pastrnak elevating them to new heights, or was he a passenger? To figure that out we will check the WOWYs to see.
|Pastrnak w Bergeron||Pastrnak w/o Bergeron||Bergeron w/o Pastrnak||——————————–||Pastrnak w Marchand||Pastrnak w/o Marchand||Marchand w/o Pastrnak|
This table demonstrates that, in terms of CF%, both Marchand and Bergeron were better with Pastrnak than without, but Pastrnak was much worse without them compared to with them. This suggests that while Pastrnak was definitely boosted by playing with Bergeron and Marchand, he was able to help them rather than hinder them as well.
Part 3: Conclusion
Some players have career years that they never repeat due to inflated percentages or are carried due to extremely talented linemates, and while David Pastrnak did have a career year, he is not a one-hit-wonder. He wasn’t shooting at a ridiculous percentage this year, his P/60 and SOG/60 were not much higher than his career averages, and his possession numbers have been consistently great. Although he did have the extremely talented linemates in Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, he was able to swim, not sink, and keep up with them, helping them both reach career highs in CF%. Do I think David Pastrnak is as good as his Top 20 in points league-wide finish this year? No, but while he may have been slightly carried by his linemates, he’s still a ridiculously talented player in his own right, and he should continue to tear up the league for years to come. If the Bruins are indeed shopping him, it would be a big mistake to trade him, as this year was much more indicative of the true skill of David Pastrnak, rather than his lower scoring previous 2 seasons.