Prospect Oskar Steen could follow Kuhlman’s path to Bruins’ second line

Matt Kalman
June 26, 2019 - 3:37 pm

You don’t have to tell Oskar Steen that there’s a precedent for someone participating in Bruins development camp and then going on to do bigger and better things in the NHL the following season.

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Steen, a sixth-round pick from 2016, was asked about that topic Wednesday on the first day of this year’s camp and instantly cited the player everyone in this year’s camp should be emulating.

“It’s really good. You look at Karson Kuhlman, he was here last year and the year before and now he played in the Stanley Cup Final. He [had> a really good season,” Steen said.

Kuhlman was in development camp last June after finishing up at Minnesota-Duluth and then signing with Boston as a free agent. He finished the season as the Bruins’ second-line right win on a line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk for Game 6 and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Despite standing just 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, Steen, 21, may be one of the leaders in the dressing room to follow in Kuhlman’s skates in 2019-20. In his third season in the Swedish League, Steen had 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 46 games last year. He had just six points the season before.

“Well I think his development has gone exactly how we hoped,” Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. “You’ve seen the transformation of his body is from a little boy a few years ago to a man now. His game this year, he was a very good player in that league, top 10 in scoring. I think his competitiveness, his willingness to get inside of people, will translate to his game here probably better than playing on the big sheet over there.

“I think he’ll be a very effective player for us in Providence to start. And we’ll see how quickly he can translate that and get himself on the radar for Butchy [Cassidy> and the guys up here.”

Langenbrunner’s talking Providence, but the same way being said about Kuhlman at this time last year.

Obviously Steen’s size stands out as something that may hinder his progress when he makes a full-time move to North America. However, he’s been watching the NHL game closely and knows the list of diminutive players that’ve made their mark.

Wisely the first one out of Steen’s mouth is one he could be teammates with in the fall.

“Yeah, I think the best defender in the playoffs for Boston was [Torey> Krug. So … I don’t think that’s a big problem anymore,” Steen said.

Steen spent most of the season playing center after playing wing in the seasons prior. The Bruins plan to look at him at both positions, although with Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic ahead of him on the depth chart (behind Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Charlie Coyle), the wing might suit Steen best.

“In general, sub-5-11 guys have a hard time playing middle in the National Hockey League, there’s not a whole lot of them,” Langenbrunner said. “But we’re going to look at him down there, and on the wing. I think he’ll get a chance to play with more skilled guys if he’s playing on the wing, just the way we’re built.”

Those skilled guys he plays with just might be named Krejci and DeBrusk.

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