Bruins need a rejuvenated Anders Bjork
After a 52-point season—his final at Notre Dame University—expectations were high for Anders Bjork. Those expectations and an impressive preseason earned himself a top-six role out of the gate in the 2017-18 season. But after suffering a shoulder injury in January of 2018, Bjork’s season ended in disappointing fashion.
Hoping to rebound in 2018-19, Bjork got off to a slow start with the Bruins before being sent down to Providence. The demotion seemed to kick something into gear for Bjork as he showed promise with 10 points in 13 games.
But after another shoulder injury pushed him out the Providence lineup and eventually into shoulder surgery, Bjork’s season once again ended with disappointment.
With two shoulder surgeries on his resume and 15 points in 50 NHL games to go with it, the upcoming 2019-20 season is an important one for the 22-year old Bjork.
Bjork’s first step to rebounding from a rough start to this NHL career is getting himself healthy and ready to go for training camp.
It sounds like he’s completed that step.
“Anders is doing really well from a recovery standpoint, had his shoulder, the same shoulder, done again, but has taken the necessary time,” general manager Don Sweeney said last month. “Saw him a couple weeks ago, he’ll be full bore.”
After missing as much time as he did last season, and not much production at the NHL level overall, it’s hard to see Bjork making the team out of camp. But with the Bruins looking for top-six help from within the organization, at some point this coming season, the Bruins will need a rejuvenated Anders Bjork, and a productive one at that.
“[Bjork’s] missed a lot of hockey, so he has to reclaim his ability to play wherever, you know, in our lineup or work his way into our lineup at some point in time like he was doing last year from Prov,” said Sweeney.
The Bruins have a surplus of young talent that will be knocking on the door, looking to make the Bruins’ opening night roster; Bjork will certainly be in the mix. Internal competition is never a bad thing and Sweeney hopes that the younger guys realize the opportunity in front of them and step up to grab what is there.
“You have players that hopefully will take a step this summer and come, ready, locked and loaded. I mean, shame on any young player who doesn’t recognize that this was a taxing year for some of our players, that they don’t come with their ears pinned back to think boy can I take a step here,” added Sweeney.”
With Marcus Johansson no longer in the mix, and an opening on the right side of the Bruins top-six, the door is open for guys like Bjork who enters the final season of his entry-level deal.
Hopefully for Bjork, this latest surgery took care of the shoulder issues that have hindered his first two seasons of professional hockey and he can finally put together a successful campaign.
It’s a tough situation for Bjork in an organization that boasts several prospects in a similar boat to Bjork. The only difference with the majority of those prospects is that like Bjork, they have not had two surgeries on the same shoulder and haven’t failed to show any sign of life at the NHL level.
At this point, you would have to think that players like Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Karson Kuhlman, Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen have all leaped ahead of Bjork in the depth chart. But if things fall into place for Bjork, and he shows signs of a turnaround, Bjork could be a nice fit on a line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
Sooner or later, we will get an idea of how far Bjork has come in his recovery and his chances of making an impact on the Bruins roster somewhere down the line.
It would be a big boost to the Bruins lineup if Bjork meets the expectations the Bruins once had of him.