At this time last year, Anders Bjork was on much more uneven ground.
In the span of just 13 months, Bjork found himself going under the knife — with a pair of major procedures on the same shoulder derailing both his first and second seasons up in the NHL ranks.
Finally cleared from a six-month recovery timeline last July, Bjork entered yet another Bruins training camp motivated to recoup that precious time of development lost to injury — while also cracking a forward corps loaded with established pro talent.
Fair to say, Bjork made the most of his opportunity.
A year removed from offseason training geared toward an uncertain future, the 23-year-old winger signed a three-year contract extension with the Bruins on Wednesday evening — with the Bruins signing off on a deal that represents an average annual value of $1.6 million.
"I think we started talking about it during the pause a little bit and I just think, talking to my family and my agent about it, we just felt like we should get this done," Bjork said. "It's a good opportunity with such a fantastic team. I want to be in Boston, playing for this team. And we felt that it was the right decision to sign it and just focus on playing and not have to worry about that in this postseason at all. So that's kind of how we came to that conclusion."
A crafty winger that has primarily skated next to Charlie Coyle this season (383:31 of 5v5 TOI together), Bjork appeared in 58 games with Boston in 2019-20 — tallying nine goals and 19 points while averaging 12:56 of ice time per contest. Even though Bjork was often the odd man out of the lineup at the time of the pause, the Mequon, Wisconsin native appears poised to reclaim his spot next to Coyle this postseason — given both his strong showing so far in Phases 3 and 4, along with the absences of both Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie.
Already a versatile weapon up front for the Bruins, Bjork's production falls well within market value when it comes to the $1.6 million cap hit he will command over the next three seasons. But when factoring in the heaps of potential still present for a player with just 108 NHL games on his resume over three seasons, Bjork's new deal could very quickly turn into another steal for Don Sweeney and Co.