The Bruins didn’t even wait until No. 9 was over.
While David Pastrnak was in the dressing room for the first-period intermission Thursday night, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the rookie would remain with the club for his 10th game and beyond, burning the first year of the winger’s entry-level contract.
“We’re going to commit to him to play up here,” Chiarelli said. “I feel that he’s done very well in his apprenticeship in Providence, which I think has been the most important progressive step in his development.
“He went down there and he did what we told him to do, which was play without the puck, play heavier, play on the wall, the defensive wall, offensive battles . . . I think in all of this, in making this decision, we really scrutinized his play in Providence and we felt that he was able to play and excel at that level with the proper physicality for him and against the proper physicality.
“We’re happy to make that decision.”
It was a decision that coach Claude Julien called “pretty unanimous . . . As far as I was concerned as a coach, I wanted him on my team. I think management felt the same way.”
The announcement doesn’t guarantee Pastrnak a spot in the lineup every night, or even a spot in Boston. Chiarelli said that, depending on how he continues to play, Pastrnak, 18, could even do another game or two in Providence.
“It’s definitely good news,” David Krejci said. “He’s really excited, but he also knows that he has to prove that he belongs here every day, in practice and in the games, and he knows it. It’s exciting. It’s exciting for me as well, and I have a Czech buddy, so looking forward to finishing the season with him.”
(There is another benchmark in terms of the CBA and Pastrnak’s contract: the 40-game mark. If Pastrnak remains on the roster for 40 games, it means that he would be a year closer to free agency. Chiarelli said that will be taken in account, and “if his play is waning to the extent that we have to look at that again, we might.”)
The Bruins also weighed heavily the two games in which the rookie blossomed, scoring two goals against the Flyers on Saturday and two more against the Lightning on Tuesday. He was scintillating in those games, using his speed and skill to complete the Milan Lucic-Krejci line admirably.
There are concerns about Pastrnak’s stamina and his ability to stand up physically to the everyday beating an NHL player absorbs. Asked about the 167-pounder, Chiarelli quickly corrected a reporter: “172 now.”
“He has actually gained weight,” Chiarelli said. “He’s a strong, wiry kid. But that’s true, that’s one of the concerns.
“But he’s a smart player and one of the things we told him when we first sent him down to Providence was this is one of the reasons why you’re going down, is we don’t want you to put yourself in vulnerable positions because he tends to do that a little bit the way he makes plays. Nobody’s perfect. There may be instances where he exposes himself. But he went down there with that being one of the things to work on, and he worked on it.”
But his presence has proven to be a boost to a team that needed it.
“This is the next step in the development piece, and it doesn’t mean you’ve got a lock,” Chiarelli said he explained to Pastrnak. “Nothing’s guaranteed in life. But you’ve earned it. You went down and did what we told you to do.”
The Pastrnak decision means Chiarelli might not have to seek a right wing on the trade market.
“Always trying to improve our team,’’ said the GM. “This helps, in the sense that he’s shown some chemistry with that line.’’ I
Chiarelli acknowledges the team’s needs might not be the same as they were a month ago.
“We’ll see how this group continues to evolve,” he said. “It’s not as pressing as before.”
Marchand on hot seat
The Department of Player Safety is reviewing a Brad Marchand apparent slew foot on Derick Brassard from the second period. The incident, which occurred when the players were going after a puck in the corner, went unpenalized.
Marchand did not address the media after the game, but Brassard clearly did not like the hit.
“You go to the corner with them and you go shoulder to shoulder, but he brings his leg in the back and I felt like I had a slew foot there,” Brassard said. “I don’t want to find any excuses about it, I don’t want to be crybaby or anything, but it could’ve been dangerous and it could be a game changer. It could’ve been a five-on-three and probably could be back in the game, but the referees said it was a clean hit, I guess.”
Marchand has been fined for a slew foot before.
McQuaid gets dinged
Kevin Hayes got his stick up high in the face of Adam McQuaid at 17:12 of the second period, with the blade appearing to hit McQuaid under the left eye. The defenseman went down hard, and he went to the dressing room immediately. He returned for the start of the third . . . Chris Kelly had gone two regular seasons without a fight but has two this season. After Chris Kreider boarded Carl Soderberg in the third period, Kelly fought Kreider, earning an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct in addition to the fighting major. “You want to stick up for your teammates, and I like Carl,” Kelly said . . . Jordan Caron and Matt Bartkowski were Boston’s healthy scratches.