By Drew Johnson
The Boston Bruins inked Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8 million extension on Wednesday just over 24 hours away from the team’s return to action (albeit, for an exhibition game).
The winger has been streaky at best with 34 points in his 108 NHL starts in a Bruins sweater, though there are several understandable reasons for this underwhelming performance.
For starters, Bjork has been plagued by injuries throughout his young career. For example, the soon-to-be 24-year-old suffered a season-ending injury just 30 games into his rookie campaign. He was only fit to dress for 20 games during the 2018-19 season before finding his groove during the abbreviated 2019-20 season.
You can also point your finger to the fact that Bjork has never locked down a permanent role in his three seasons. He had stints on the first line alongside Patrice Bergeron and, though he performed well, “The Perfection Line” (come on, we can do better than that nickname) was reunited.
This relegated Bjork to the middle-two lines, where he has been juggled around throughout the majority of his first three seasons. Bjork has never been able to develop enough chemistry with a center or fellow winger to play to his full potential.
With that in mind, Bjork has shown flashes of what he is truly made of. Speed and puck-handling are his two most notable attributes with his shooting and play-making abilities seeming to improve every game.
If the winger is to reach his full potential, you could see him becoming a permanent solution to Boston’s most significant problem throughout the past decade (though it feels like a century): the second line. David Krejci has held down the fort ever since Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton departed with little help.
Management has tossed Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, and Matt Beleskey in so they could temporarily plug the hole (sometimes for just three-to-four months) while Krejci keeps the sinking ship afloat. Boston’s been waiting for some time for a solution to rise out of Providence, and Anders Bjork could be just that.
That’s the height of the winger’s potential, so what if he falls short of it?
Well, he could find himself a permanent role on Boston’s third line. He saw a lot of time alongside Charlie Coyle this season, and that’s where you ought to expect him again when Ondrej Kase joins the Bruins in Toronto (which is expected to be soon).
At a $1.6 million average throughout the next three seasons, this deal could be an absolute steal for Don Sweeney & Co. We’ll see how he performs in the Round Robin games but, if his performance in training camp has any indication, we should see some great things from No. 10.