Boston Bruins Prospect Anders Bjork’s Decision Coming Soon

Apr 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork (10) attempts a shot on Denver Pioneers goalie Tanner Jaillet (36) during the second period of play at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork (10) attempts a shot on Denver Pioneers goalie Tanner Jaillet (36) during the second period of play at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins Prospect Anders Bjork’s Decision Coming After World Championships Conclude

One of the biggest question marks for the Boston Bruins’ 2017 offseason revolves around Anders Bjork. Despite being selected in the fifth-round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Bjork’s NHL stock is at an all-time high. He projects to be a top-six NHL left winger who can step in right away and make an impact. The Bruins, just by chance, happen to be looking for a top-six left winger to slot in alongside David Krejci next season. Bjork, however, is still without an NHL contract as he has played out the last few seasons with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

If Bjork is signed, he’d likely be competing immediately for that role alongside Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Peter Cehlarik and even Frank Vatrano. After a breakout season with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last season, he’s earned the consideration. In 39 games in 2016-17, Bjork scored an outstanding 21 goals and 52 points. His impressive season earned him the opportunity to play at the World Championships with the United States National Team – an opportunity he’s making the best of in the moment.

Decision Coming Soon

As it stands, the Bruins’ seem to be expecting a decision on Bjork to come after the World Championships.

"“We’re doing everything we possibly can. He had a very difficult decision (about turning pro) right after his season was over. I think it was overwhelming for him. He’s at the World Championships now. His camp has told Don that he’s going to make a decision whether or not to return to college hockey or turn pro after the World Championships at some point,” said Neely. “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. 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].”"

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For the Bruins, vying for a college player and waiting for his decision is nothing new. With how highly they think of Bjork, it’s clear that he would be given every opportunity to succeed early in his NHL career. It’s hard to not compare this situation to last year’s, however.

Familiar Feeling

It’s a familiar feeling for the Bruins. For much of the 2016 offseason, the Bruins patiently awaited the outcome of the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. Vesey, of course, signed with the New York Rangers, spurning his hometown Bruins in the process. Vesey went on to have a solid rookie campaign with the Rangers, scoring 16 goal and 27 points in 80 games and looking like a legitimate NHLer in just his first year. The point total doesn’t jump off the page, but it rarely does for rookies.

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While the Bruins have experienced this before, they hold the cards this time around. Bjork’s NHL rights belong to the Bruins, whereas Vesey’s were owned by the Nashville Predators and eventually the Buffalo Sabres. With his rights, the Bruins get an extended opportunity to negotiate contract rights with Bjork who doesn’t become a free agent until the 2018 offseason if he fails to sign a contract in Boston. It’s not necessarily a do-or-die situation regarding Bjork’s contract in Boston this year. If he returns to school, he can still opt to sign with the Bruin following his graduation. Returning to school would certainly have many perks for Bjork as well.

Bjork Has Incentive to Wait

If Bjork returns to school, he has the opportunity to compete for a National Championship with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. One of the best teams in the country, the Fighting Irish legitimately have a chance at winning college hockey’s top honors. For this reason alone, the decision won’t be an easy one for Bjork. Additionally, the opportunity to finish his degree in the next year is well within reach. The situation got a little more complicated when the NHL announced that they wouldn’t be attending the Olympics in 2018, however.

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With NHL players not being permitted to play in the Olympics, teams will be looking for replacements from the best available crop of talent. College standouts will all but certainly be afforded opportunities for the United States Olympic team, and Bjork’s name should be right atop that list. With his name already being called for the US at the World Championships, it’s clear that he’s on the radar for national exposure. If he signs with the Bruins this offseason, he’ll essentially be throwing away his opportunity to represent his country at the Olympics – something that players dream of growing up.