With the dog days of the NHL offseason now upon us, we’re going to spend the next couple of weeks taking a deeper dive at a number of players on the Bruins’ roster (or on the cusp of a roster spot) who could make a major impact on the club’s hopes of putting together another Cup run.
Starting off, let’s take a look at one of the B’s most intriguing young wingers in Anders Bjork:
Player: Anders Bjork
Age: 22 (turns 23 on August 5)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0 / 190 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 20 games played - 1 goal, 2 assists, 11:48 ATOI
Season In Review
The 2018-19 season was expected to be a big step forward for Bjork — who saw his rookie campaign limited to just 30 games after suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 30, 2018 that required a season-ending procedure to correct.
While he was tabbed as being fully recovered by the time the regular season got underway in October, Bjork struggled to earn the same top-six reps that were afforded to him in 2017-18. He cracked the NHL roster out of training camp, sure, but it was a bit of an ominous sign for Bjork when he was the lone forward scratched in the B’s season opener against the Capitals on October 3.
Largely relegated to a bottom-six role on the roster when he was inserted into the lineup, Bjork failed to generate much of the same dynamic play in the O-zone that made him a star at Notre Dame and one of the Bruins’ top prospects.
By the time he was sent down to Providence on November 28, Bjork had been tabbed for more scratches (four) than total points (three).
A stint down in the AHL appeared to get Bjork back on track, with the winger tallying 10 points over his first 13 games. But even with his solid production in the O-zone, it became apparent that his trek down to Providence was not going to be a short trip — with Bruce Cassidy noting that the forward wasn’t going to get a call back up even ahead of Boston’s Winter Classic bout at his alma mater in South Bend.
“No. Never referenced this game,” Cassidy said of potentially calling up Bjork for the Jan. 1 matchup. “I think that’s too much pressure. We all know the deal with Anders. He was a terrific player for Notre Dame, but our roster is what is it. … It’s hard to give to one and take from another. And there’s still time, I guess.
“We need to feel he’s one of the best 20 guys we can put on the ice, then we’ll make that decision. It’s not looking that way right now. He’s doing well in Providence down there. But we’ve kind of settled on our lineup here with what we have. That’s kind of where I’m at.
“No, any conversations with Anders were always about how to make him a better player, to respect the American Hockey League when you’re down there and work at it every day, because a lot of players go through what he’s going through. Hopefully it works out for the best for him. I believe it will. He’s a good kid. He works hard, but time will tell.”
Ultimately, another stint back up in the NHL was not in the cards for Bjork, as an injury down in Providence once again put the forward on the shelf — leading to another season-ending surgery on the same shoulder that he knocked him out of commission during the previous year.
Now, another year down and with another major surgery hindering him some this summer, Bjork is looking at a potential make-or-break campaign in 2019-20, with the forward entering the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract. With more vacancies set at the wing this year, it’s looking as though Bjork will have a good chance at getting back on track up in the NHL ranks.
A deeper dive