BOSTON – In a bit of an update on the Anders Bjork situation, the Bruins prospect is expected to notify the NHL club holding his rights about his plans for the upcoming season following his stint for Team USA at the World Championships.
The Notre Dame forward will be on the USA Hockey contingent set to travel over to Europe to compete in the world championships, and there he’ll be teammates with 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy after his successful run with the Black and Gold at the end of the season. Bruins President Cam Neely said the Bruins hope it doesn’t turn into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if Bjork opts to return to the Fighting Irish for his senior season, and he’s given the club no reason to think that might be the case.
Vesey is among a number of college players in recent years that have spurned the teams that drafted them, and become an NHL free agent after not signing with the team holding their rights a few months after they’d left school.
“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].”
Making matters more complicated is the fact that Bjork, who projects to be a top-6 left wing candidate playing on a line with David Krejci, could return to a Notre Dame team primed for an NCAA title run, and a possible Olympic chance to play for Team USA next winter if the NHL players don’t end up going to South Korea.
Bjork, a former fifth-round pick, has clearly elevated his NHL profile since he was drafted three years ago, and finished with 21 goals and 52 points for the Irish while getting major Hobey Baker consideration as a junior. There’s also the fact Bjork holds particularly strong ties to Notre Dame as a bit of a legacy there: His father Kirt was an All-American hockey player there and his cousin, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Erik Condra, also played for the Irish before jumping into the NHL.