After tying for the lead league in goals with 48 and tying for third in points with 95, Bruins right wing David Pastrnak is unquestionably one of the top candidates for the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP.
But as far as Pastrnak is concerned, there's one player who stands above the rest of the field and is his "no question" pick to win -- Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, whose 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) were 13 more than any other player.
"For me it's absolutely no question," Pastrnak said. "For me Leon Draisaitl was showing up the whole season. A lot of people say, 'Oh he's playing with Connor (McDavid).' Connor was hurt for a month and he brought it up even another level. For me it's absolutely no question it's going to be and should be Leon Draisaitl. The way he played this year is absolutely no question for me."
Pastrnak may end up not winning the Hart, but he has already won a couple other awards. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy by virtue of tying Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals, becoming the first Bruin to ever win the award and the first Bruin to lead the league in goals since Phil Esposito did it six years in a row from 1969-75.
Then last week, Pastrnak won the Golden Hockey Stick as the Czech player of the year for the fourth straight season, tying the record for consecutive wins set by Jaromir Jagr. Pastrnak's four wins are tied for the third-most overall behind Jagr's 12 and Dominik Hasek's five.
"Huge honor obviously," Pastrnak said of both awards. "Here in Czech, to tie Jaromir Jagr is obviously a huge honor. Rocket, sharing it with Alex, same thing, a huge honor. He's been winning it every single year almost, so for me to share it with him is even more special."
Pastrnak said he was "a little sad" about not getting a chance to get to 50 goals, but that he was "more mad" about having his pursuit of 100 points cut short by the pandemic.
Here are some more highlights from Pastrnak's Zoom call:
- Pastrnak said he is still in Prague, where he has spent most of this break, but that he'll be back in Boston before full training camp begins on July 10.
- He said he has been able to skate twice a week in two-hour sessions with about 10 other NHL players in the area. He has been working out 5-6 times a week and playing soccer and tennis, too.
- Pastrnak said he doesn't think being locked down in a hub city for the playoffs will affect him too much because he doesn't have kids or anything and doesn't really have any pregame superstitions that might get thrown off. He said he'll probably approach it the same as any road trip.
- He did say he thinks it'll be weird to play without fans, though. He's been watching European soccer games that don't have fans and said it's "really weird."
- On the first thing he'll do when he gets back to Boston: "I don't know. Get tested for COVID?"
- Pastrnak said last year's Stanley Cup Final loss still serves as motivation even with all this time off. "It's huge motivation."
- He also said he thinks this year's Bruins team is better than last year's.
- On teammates like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron speaking up and getting involved in the wake of the murder of George Floyd: "It's a testament to how good of leadership we have with Bergy and Z. They speak up so well. Being in the room every single day with these guys, you learn and they help you out as a player, but at the same time as a person. I couldn't be any more happy than I am with the leadership I have. Every single year I'm getting better as a person and a leader because of them."