If he goes unclaimed, he’ll report to the Providence Bruins and play for the foreseeable future there. However, if claimed by another team, he would save the Bruins a bit of cap space.
The speedy winger played in 19 games this season with Boston, recording a goal and an assist on 22 shots. His strength is his defensive ability, whereas his offense is nearly nonexistent, and he’s never going to be more than a fourth line player.
With Kuhlman getting waived, that means Anton Blidh and Oskar Steen are here to stay
A big weakness heading into this season was the bottom-six, and the Bruins needed new blood.
They went out and signed guys like Foligno, Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek, but turns out, some of the most effective players for those roles were already within the organization.
Anton Blidh and Oskar Steen have worked their way into the lineup and have made it difficult for Bruce Cassidy to take them out. They’ve had the advantage of being able to stay in with injuries/COVID taking regulars out, but with the Bruins getting healthy, the Kuhlman waiving is a sign that these two have played their way into bigger roles.
Blidh is up to eight points in 18 games with Boston this season. We’ve seen Blidh sporadically with Boston over the last five seasons, but he hasn’t put this kind of production together in the past.
He’s providing offense and he’s a player that LOVES blocking shots. He has 10 in 18 games played, averaging .55 blocks per game. Only Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall average more per game among the forwards than Blidh.
The line of Blidh, Nosek and Curtis Lazar had made for an effective fourth line as of late and could shape up to be a solid combo going forward for Boston.
For Steen, this season was his first real shot with Boston and he’s been quite noticeable. He had five points in his first seven games before going pointless in his last four. But despite the cold streak as of late, Steen makes an impact on the bottom-six. His offense has always been his strength and it’s showing at the NHL level.
At full strength, Steen likely won’t get everyday playing time. If the fourth line remains as mentioned above, you’re looking at two winger spots available on the third line with Charlie Coyle, with Foligno, Frederic, Jake DeBrusk and Steen fighting for those places. That is if everyone is healthy and COVID protocol-free, and DeBrusk is still on the roster.
But it’s good to see Steen got the nod over Kuhlman because Steen is waivers-exempt. It’s a big reason why the Swedish forward was going up and down before. The Bruins didn’t need to worry about someone claiming him. But he’s played well enough that the Bruins were willing to roll the dice with Kuhlman rather than just Steen back down again.
We will see if Kuhlman remains in the Boston organization on Monday. He’s a cheap depth option so someone might take a shot and claim him. But the Boston brass is sending a message to guys like Blidh and Steen that they have earned their spots up in the NHL.
Now, the two Swedes need to keep proving that choice was the right one.