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2021 Player Ratings: A slight step back for Karson Kuhlman in limited duty

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He didn’t have much of a chance to make an impact, to be fair.

New York Islanders v Boston Bruins - Game Two Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

SCOC Rating: 4.6

Reader Rating: 4.8

Karson Kuhlman didn’t have a bad season. He didn’t have a good season either.

In fact, you could argue that he didn’t really get a chance to have a season, given how frequently he bounced in and out of the lineup.

That ping-pong effect is likely what led both us and the readers to give Kuhlman a slightly below average rating: he wasn’t bad, you just would have liked to have seen a few more “I’m not giving up my lineup spot” performances.

Kuhlman mostly played third-line duties when he was in the lineup, occasionally dropping down or moving up a line for a few shifts.

Overall, he didn’t play poorly: his 5v5 possession numbers are respectable, and both of his goals came at even strength, an area of need for the Bruins.

However, he didn’t have many games where you watched him and thought, “yeah, he needs to stay in the lineup.”

For a guy who is a fringe NHLer on this team due to the Bruins having a ton of forwards, he needed more of those performances to earn more than a run of 20 games.

To be fair to Kuhlman, being in, out, in, out, in, etc. for weeks at a time can’t be easy.

For example, after playing in a game on Feb. 1, Kuhlman went 27 days between NHL games. He had other stretches of being out for two weeks and three weeks as well.

Not exactly a recipe for consistency.

But you could also make the argument that Kuhlman didn’t show Bruce Cassidy anything that mandated a lineup spot, as mentioned above.

At his best, Kuhlman uses his speed to his advantage, pestering opposing defenses on the forecheck or using that speed to find himself some open space on the ice.

Unfortunately for Kuhlman, this offseason has done little to ease the logjam of forwards in front of him.

The B’s brought in middle-six forwards by the boatload once free agency opened, and while a couple of guys are out of the mix, it’s hard to see a glaring opening for Kuhlman.

Ideally, he can continue to work on the areas of his game that need improvement, and can seize the opportunities when they come his way next season.

If he can do that, he’ll have a chance to get more consistent ice time and show us all what he can do with an extended run of play.