Anders Bjork found himself in an all-too-familiar spot last year — under the knife and with another season frustratingly cut short.
For a player that’s largely been able to avoid the injury bug prior to the start of his pro career, the last two years have been anything but encouraging for a forward that stood as one of Boston’s brightest prospects back in 2017.
With his stock at an all-time high after getting recognized as a Hobey Baker finalist at Notre Dame in 2017, the shifty forward cracked Boston’s roster out of training camp two years ago — debuting as the final piece of a potent top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The results were encouraging during Bjork’s first couple of weeks in the NHL, with the 63-37-10 trio generating a goals-for per 60 minutes rate of 4.46. But Bjork’s season was ultimately halted after just 30 games — as shoulder surgery in February 2018 put him on the shelf for the remainder of his rookie year.
The promise found in that first campaign was hard to come by in 2018-19. Limited to just one goal and three points over 20 games with Boston, Bjork found himself toiling down in Providence by December — missing a return to South Bend as part of Boston’s matchup with the Blackhawks at the annual Winter Classic game on January 1.
Bjork only logged 13 games down in the AHL before yet another season ended prematurely, with another shoulder surgery in February once again putting the forward on the outside looking in as the Bruins orchestrated a playoff run all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
For Bjork, who has only logged 50 games up in the NHL over the course of two years, the first procedure stood as just a bad break in what has been an otherwise fruitful hockey career.
To undergo another procedure just 13 months later? Even the most optimistic player would hit some sort of wall when tasked with another summer rife with grueling rehab work. Those sentiments were there for Bjork, but did not last very long.