This post is part of Bruins Day on PHT…
If the Boston Bruins want to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders again, it’s imperative that some of their young forward prospects start making an impact at the NHL level.
Anders Bjork has the potential to give them what they need. A fifth-round draft pick in 2014, the 20-year-old signed with the B’s after a prolific junior year at Notre Dame in which he piled up 52 points (21G, 31A) in just 39 games.
Though he’s never played a professional game, there is even talk he could compete for a top-six role in the NHL next season — perhaps alongside David Krejci on Boston’s second line.
And if that’s a tad optimistic, if Bjork could at least provide some scoring punch in the bottom six, the B’s would still be pretty happy.
First he has to make the team, of course.
“Obviously, there’s a ton of good prospects and young players in the organization so it’s going to be tough to earn a spot on the Bruins, in Boston,” Bjork said, per CSNNE.com. “I think I know that I’m going to be training really hard. I plan to work a lot on my strength and stuff like that and just anything I can do to give myself a better shot at making the team, I think I’m going to do. It’s going to take a lot of effort. But it’s a great opportunity. I’m excited about that and that’s definitely going to drive me this summer.”
To get Bjork to leave college, the Bruins needed to sell him on the opportunity to make an immediate impact in the NHL.
“Our hopes are that he sees where we’re at as a team and some of the young players we’re putting in our lineup,” said team president Cam Neely. “We hope that he understands that he’s a player that we think very highly of that can step in and contribute [in the NHL].”
But Bjork won’t be the only young forward gunning for a spot out of camp. Jake DeBrusk, a first-round draft pick in 2015, and Danton Heinen, the 22-year-old AHL star, will also be in the mix. So too will Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zachary Senyshyn, Trent Frederic, and Ryan Donato.
So it should be a very interesting preseason for the B’s.
“We’ve been fairly committed to allowing our young prospects to try and grow and take some opportunity,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney said last month at the team’s prospect camp. “Now, we’ve got some great competition and internal competition set up, and I do believe there will be a couple players, and there are a couple that are here that got a taste last year that will be along those same lines, will challenge; particularly up front.”