I feel like I’ve been writing this same sentence for 10 years, but here goes:
At the start of the season, the Bruins were hoping that this would be the year Anders Bjork elevated his game and took the next step in his development.
And while he showed signs of improvement in what was his longest NHL look to date, he still didn’t do quite enough to get a stranglehold on a lineup spot. Let’s start with the biggest positive: Bjork set a career high in all three major statistical categories with 9 goals, 10 assists, and 19 points.
His 58 games played was also a career high for the former Notre Dame winger, as he got a more extended look at the NHL level than he has in years past.
To me, however, this was a year where you wanted Bjork to grab that lineup spot and refuse to let it go. He didn’t quite do that. In fact, while Bjork’s point total this season was a career high, his points-per game mark was actually down slightly from his rookie season (0.4 PPG as a rookie, 0.32 PPG this past season).
Still, Bjork did have flashes of promise. He looked to have pretty good chemistry with Charlie Coyle at times, and could prove to be part of a potent third line next season. While he did get brief looks here and there further up the lineup, he didn’t play anywhere near well enough to unseat any of the guys ahead of him.
The arrivals of Ondrej Kase and (to a lesser extent) Nick Ritchie certainly put a squeeze on Bjork’s ice time, and that will continue to be an issue next season (unless there’s a trade).
To be fair, Bjork wasn’t bad this season. It’s probably a little unfair to call this season a disappointment for the 24 year old.
But he wasn’t great either...he was fine. Average is a good word for it, and that’s really what informed his grade. You have to think that at this point, however, the Bruins are looking for more than average from Bjork. He displayed some growth in his game this season, but not quite enough to take the next step.
Here’s to hoping he takes the “good” from last season and carries it into next year, and that I can finally stop writing that opening sentence.