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Who is Joakim Nordstrom?

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A Q&A with Corey Sznajder

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

When Joakim Nordstrom was signed on July 1st, I didn’t know too much about him, so I asked a Canes fan. Corey Sznajder is someone who has a lot going on, and I suggest you follow him on Twitter. He’s settled into a role with The Athletic Chicago, while also tracking games for the public’s use of micro statistics.

Q: Nordstrom is projected to be a fourth line winger for the Bruins this coming season. In that spot the last two seasons was Tim Schaller, a speedy player who forechecks hard. How does Nordstrom’s game relate to Schaller’s?

Nordstrom is pretty quick, but he’s not a great forechecker. His best asset is that he’s a smart player is pretty good at reading plays & disrupting breakouts, especially in the neutral zone. Guys like Nestrasil, Kruger, Jooris and di Giuseppe did a lot of the work retrieving the puck & getting it free along the boards while Nordstrom would put make himself open for a pass to keep a cycle going. He doesn’t really have much offense to offer, though. More likely to take a shot from the boards or from an angle than to setup another play.

Q: After coming over from Chicago, Nordstrom received top 6 minutes for most of 2015-16. Why did he get those minutes, and why was he shifted back down to a bottom 6 role?

That was interesting because Peters scratched him for a month before getting him into the lineup full-time. The Hurricanes were starving for wingers at the time and ended up being slotted with Jordan Staal and Andrej Nestrasil in a checking role. It worked and they stuck with it for pretty much the entire year. It played to his strengths well because those two won basically every puck battle and Nordstrom had a knack for going to the net. He just couldn’t finish. Only scored 10 goals despite playing well otherwise and the Hurricanes needed to upgrade there. They tried going back to that the next season, but they wanted more offense on Jordan’s line and put Teravainen & Aho there.

Q: Nordstrom killed penalties for Carolina. Do you see him receiving penalty killing time with the Bruins?

I’m not familiar with how Cassidy rolls forwards on the PK, but he should make the second or third rotation. This was the one area where he excelled with the Hurricanes and I have to think that was a reason Boston signed him.

Q: What part of his game does Nordstrom need to improve?

He’s been a black hole offensively the past couple of seasons and that’s been the main thing holding him back. He’s been playing a dump-and-chase role for so many years that’s kind of wired into his brain and a lot of plays end up dying on his stick because of it. Doesn’t exactly make good plays with the puck on the rush and won’t score unless he’s driving the net to get a rebound. Ended up dragging down his line a bit last year because he couldn’t complete passes and would give the puck away more times than not. He’s a good enough penalty killer to stick around in the league, but the lack of offense was frustrating to deal with for the Hurricanes.