Boston Bruins: Karson Kuhlman is an uneasy fit on the second line

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: Karson Kuhlman #83 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 16, 2020 in New York City. The Bruins defeated the Rangers 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: Karson Kuhlman #83 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 16, 2020 in New York City. The Bruins defeated the Rangers 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Much as it’s easy to like Karson Kuhlman’s game, he’s a very uneasy fit on the Boston Bruins’ second line.

It’s fair to say that Karson Kuhlman lines up with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, more because the Boston Bruins have no other option rather than him being the perfect choice to be there.

You only need look at the fact that he has just 5 points in 21 games this season and none in the last 7 to realise that he’s not bringing enough extra to that line. The right-winger there needs to be able to pack some scoring punch.

It’s not to say that there aren’t aspects of Karson Kuhlman’s game that he brings to that group; he’s never going to blow your mind with skill plays but he brings speed, heart, strength and tenacity to the group – the intangible things.

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Unfortunately intangibles need to be backed up with points when you’re featured regularly in the Boston Bruins’ top-six and here is where Karson Kuhlman gets shown up. It’d seem his ceiling is more of a third or fourth line ‘worker bee’ type guy than a top-six producer.

The challenge for the Boston Bruins continues to be finding a player that fits on that line; Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle have all been plugged in there from time-to-time to varying degrees of success.

In fact, in his most recent five outings, he’s only tallied more than 12 minutes once; DeBrusk on the opposite wing is averaging 15 minutes a night in that same time-frame. Clearly, he doesn’t have the coach’s trust either.

At the start of the year, it seemed Kuhlman had won the spot with his pre-season form, while Brett Ritchie was also a hope. Neither have panned out quite the way that head coach Bruce Cassidy would’ve hoped.

Right now, it’s not the biggest concern as the team is still winning games regardless of who is playing in their top-six. The bigger worry though is that Karson Kuhlman will get caught out in the play-offs.

The physical side will be no worry for Kuhlman when teams bear down, but it’s the lack of production that will ultimately hurt. With talented guys like Krejci and DeBrusk out there with him, you’d expect a few more assists, even secondary ones, but they haven’t been coming.

Long-term, the expectation is that the Boston Bruins are in the market for a right-winger and they’ll ultimately be taking Karson Kuhlman’s spot in the line-up.

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Having him still available to the team, with his turn of speed, maybe as an option on the fourth line makes him a very valuable asset regardless. He’s just one that currently plays a little too high in the line-up.