Bruins camp invitee Karson Kuhlman showing signs of pro future

Dan Shulman
July 06, 2017 - 3:27 pm

There are a lot of big players and big names who showed up for the start of Bruins development camp Thursday. Whether it is Anders Bjork’s finesse, Wiley Sherman’s imposing stature or Urho Vaakanainen’s tongue-twisting surname, there was a vast array of skill display.

But one player who may have fallen through the cracks on Thursday was camp invitee and Minnesota-Duluth forward Karson Kuhlman.

Throughout his career, Kuhlman has never been a flashy player or a big point-producer. His 60 career points (26 goals, 34 assists) in 122 games is definitely not cause for excitement. But the undrafted rising senior makes the plays that don’t show up on the scoresheet yet benefit his team in a positive manner.

“I think every team needs those guys,” Kuhlman said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. Just keep doing my thing and hopefully other guys will produce around me.”

At 5-foot-11, he’s not the most noticeable player in the locker room or on the ice, but Kuhlman makes his presence felt everywhere in the rink. His vision, net-front ability and quick release show Kuhlman is quickly turning into a professional-caliber player.

Although he isn’t the biggest player on the ice, he plays each game like he is, making his opponent earn every step. In a mini-rink drill on Thursday, Kuhlman utilized his body to separate his opponent from the puck on defense then immediately turned, skated and ripped a shot on offense.

“My whole life, I’ve taken pride in being a 200-foot guy,” Kuhlman said. “I’ve been lucky to have good coaching along the way to break down my game and help me with little things like that.”

In other drills, Kuhlman was constantly pestering along the boards and at the net-front, using his stick to poke loose pucks away. His playing style is similar to Brad Marchand -- that type of player who loves to get under the skin of his opponents.

“I think I kind of grew into that role,” Kuhlman said. “I do enjoy it, I like talking out there a little bit.”

One trait Kuhlman showed off on Thursday was his vision. He was always looking to throw pucks to the net and made some excellent passes in odd-man rush drills that led to goals. Those passes were not only tape-to-tape, but also made at the exact right moment.

“Net-front play and poise, it’s something that we work on a lot at UMD,” Kuhlman said. “It’s something that came with time and a lot of work.

“Getting pucks there is something that’s been harped on my whole life and good things tend to happen for myself or other players around me.”

After making the national championship game with Duluth last year, Kuhlman is hoping to gain more valuable experience during his senior season.

“Getting there was a great memory but it’s even more fuel for next year,” Kuhlman said.