Oskar Steen

WATCH: Oskar Steen nets first goal of Boston Bruins' preseason

WATCH: Oskar Steen nets first goal of Boston Bruins' preseason

The Boston Bruins had a quick turnaround in the lead-up to the 2019-20 NHL season.

Just a few months removed from a seven-game Stanley Cup Final loss, the team began preseason play against the New Jersey Devil on Monday night. And their first goal of the preseason arrived in that contest.

In the second period of the game, Bruins prospect Oskar Steen was able to net a goal despite being in a 1-vs-2 situation. Here's a look at the goal via the Bruins' official Twitter account. 

That was a pretty nice shot by Steen, who was a sixth-round pick of the Bruins back in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Steen, 21, has spent the past few seasons developing in his native Sweden. He is coming off a 37-point season (17 goals, 20 assists) and is looking to make an impact with either the Bruins or, more likely, the Providence Bruins.

Steen will have plenty of competition from some of the Bruins' top overall prospects for organizational footing. But if he can continue to demonstrate a scoring touch as he did on his first preseason goal, he should be in good shape.

Haggerty: B's sign McAvoy to extremely fair contract>>>

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Could Oskar Steen be a dark horse forward candidate for Bruins this season?

Could Oskar Steen be a dark horse forward candidate for Bruins this season?

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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No McAvoy-type among this crop of B's World Junior prospects

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No McAvoy-type among this crop of B's World Junior prospects

Last year at this time, the entire hockey world was buzzing about one of the Bruins best and brightest prospects at the IIHF World Junior tournament when Charlie McAvoy and Team USA took things over when it mattered most.

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A year later, McAvoy is one of the lead candidates for the NHL’s Calder Trophy and six other B’s prospects were looking to make their own name at the World Juniors in Buffalo. Those prospects have enjoyed varying degrees of success in this year’s Under-20 tournament, but it also looks very clear that there isn’t a McAvoy-type game-changing youngster rising through the ranks of the Black and Gold.

Certainly, Trent Frederic ended his world junior career on a high note by scoring an amazing four goals to help lead Team USA to a 9-3 blowout win over the Czech Republic for the Bronze medal. It’s the third year in a row that Team USA has medaled in the tournament. That’s a record-setting achievement for the USA Hockey program.

Clearly, there are things to like about Frederic stepping up in a medal game and dominating with a huge offensive night. It tells you something about the player’s overall makeup in big-game situations, and was also a nice response after he was benched for portions of Team USA’s disappointing loss to Team Sweden in a medal round game on Wednesday.

He showed a lot of his strengths: Size, strength, hustle, some great penalty killing and a really dogged, aggressive approach to attacking the puck carrier.

But there were also the other five games in the tournament where Frederic managed just a single point and was essentially the fourth-line center for Team USA with limited ice time and very little presence in any of the games. Clearly, he looks like an NHL player based on his size (6-2, 210), strength and willingness to do a lot of the little things on a game-by-game basis, but the jury is still very much out on whether he’s anything more than the “third-line NHL center” that then-scouting director Keith Gretzky projected him to be way back on the first night of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Ryan Lindgren was good enough to be a top-four defenseman for Team USA, but he looks like a true stay-at-home defenseman with very little natural inclination toward the offensive end of the ice. He finished a minus-3 in five games with just two shots on net leading into the blowout win over the Czechs.

Jeremy Swayman was the third-string goaltender for Team USA and didn’t get into any games while still racking up the big-stage experience being around the tournament.

The B’s 2017 first-round pick, Urho Vaakanainen, was another player, like Frederic, who certainly looked like he belonged in the elite tournament, but had mixed results at best. Vaakanainen finished with an assist in five games, along with a minus-3 rating, and had seven shots on net in a very defense-first performance. The B’s prospect wasn’t on the Finnish power play and most of the time his big offensive move consisted of dumping the puck into the end boards after gaining the offensive blue line.

Perhaps there is some latent offensive ability waiting to come out in Vaakanainen’s game, but it sure doesn’t appear like the instincts or the tools are really there for him. Instead, he looks like a good-skating, shutdown defenseman that will chew up his share of minutes, but is going to be more one-dimensional than one would hope as a mid-first round pick. The good news is that he showed a good, active stick in the D-zone and certainly didn’t seem to shy away from the physical play in front of the net.

But Vaakanainen was simply okay on a Finnish World Junior roster that was loaded with NHL first-round picks and really didn’t live up to the hype by not even making it to the medal round games on Friday.

Instead, it was a pair of lower-round picks that really impressed in the tournament. One was 2016 fifth-round pick Joona Koppanen, a big, aggressive bottom-six center for Finland who seemed to always be fore-checking hard or getting to the front of the net. The 6-5 Koppanen finished second on Team Finland with three goals in five games, and finished with four points and a plus-2 while killing penalties, taking face-offs and showing that he could do a little bit of everything. 

It says something about Koppanen that he managed to make plays despite playing a much more limited role on a Finland roster with some pretty big prospect names up front.

Finally, there’s scrappy, undersized Swedish forward and B’s sixth round pick Oskar Steen, who really gave everybody an idea of what he can do in Team Sweden’s dispatching of the Americans in the medal round. Steen scored on a shorthanded snipe under the bar for the eventual game-winner against Team USA, then got in touch with his inner-Marchand when he slashed the knee of American winger Kailer Yamamoto in the closing seconds of the win for the Swedes. It was a cheap play to be sure, but it was also evidence that there’s some snarl and sandpaper to the young Swede’s game that will endear him to the Bruins organization once it’s harnessed.

Clearly, there were a couple of excellent individual performances from B’s prospects and a four-goal game from Frederic is something to long be admired. Still, it sure doesn’t feel like there was a McAvoy-type player, or one that might be able to help the Bruins in the NHL next season, among this crop of B’s world junior prospects.  

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