BRIGHTON – This summer is the fourth Bruins development camp for Swedish draft pick Oskar Steen, and should be his last as a prospect rather than a player who can help the NHL club.
That’s because the 21-year-old Steen is headed to North America this season, where he'll develop his game in the AHL with Providence in a first real attempt at winning an NHL roster spot.
That news may not be noteworthy for a former sixth-round draft pick from four years ago, but Steen is worth paying attention to. He has looked good in past development camps, flashed in 2018 with a feisty performance for Team Sweden at the World Junior tournament and was among the Swedish League’s leading scorers last season with 17 goals and 39 points in 46 games for Farjestads BK Karlstad.
“It’s very exciting for me. I’m looking forward to the season,” said Steen. “I look up to a guy like Karson Kuhlman who was here [at development camp] last year and now he’s played in a Stanley Cup Final after having a really good season. He’s a really good guy and I look up to how he did it [last season]. Signing for the Bruins was very big for me. I’ll get there in September [for training camp] and do my best.
“I was at the rookie tournament four years ago so I know a little bit about the game [in North America] and I’ve played in some international tournaments here. So I know a little bit, but it might take me a little time to adjust.”
It's interesting that Steen notes Kuhlman as a role model, as Steen could be the kind of player who makes the steady progression to NHL level that Kuhlman managed last year.
He has a long way to go before he’s doing any of these things at the NHL level for the Bruins, but he’s also a potential center/right wing who could really flash this season at a position where the B’s could use somebody to step up. It’s a long way from proclaiming him a legit candidate for a top-six spot where the Bruins could use another dynamic player, but there’s also no reason that Steen shouldn’t be listed with in-house Black and Gold organizational candidates like Peter Cehlarik or Zach Senyshyn, either.
“His development has gone exactly how we’d hoped," said Bruins Coordinator of Player Development Jamie Langenbrunner. "To say the transformation from a little boy a couple of years ago to a man now. The game this year was very good in that league he was top-10 in scoring. I think his competitiveness and his willingness to get inside on people is going to translate even better over here [in North America] than it did on the big sheet over there."
“He should be a very effective player for us in Providence to start and we’ll see how quickly he can translate that to be on the radar for [Bruce Cassidy] and the guys [in Boston]. In general sub-5-foot-11 guys have a hard time playing in the middle in the NHL. There’s not a lot of them, but we’re going to look at him [in Providence] at center and on the wing. He’s one of those guys that gives us some versatility.”
One of things that stands out about Steen beyond his scoring ability is the hard-nosed way he plays the game, as attested by his 49 penalty minutes logged in 46 games last season. The 5-foot-11, 181-pounder was nearly suspended for the Gold Medal game in the 2018 World Junior tournament when he slashed Kailer Yamomoto of Team USA at the very end of a win for Team Sweden, and clearly plays with an edge that little guys tend to need at the pro hockey level.
Steen is another interesting young forward who's going to be added to the Bruins mix come September, and could be a name heard from at the NHL level not long after that given his skill set and the B’s needs up front headed into this coming season.
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