By Allan Muir
No one in Boston will believe it until they see him for themselves, but the Bruins may finally have landed The Yeti.
Jimmy Murphy of ESPNBoston.com quotes a source as saying Swedish winger Carl Soderberg has signed with the Bruins.
The 27-year-old has been Boston property since a 2007 trade with the St. Louis Blues. He’s reportedly been close to coming over in the past, but has always backed out at the last minute and stayed hidden in Sweden…hence his mythological nickname.
Hopes are up that this time will be different. Soderberg, a 6′-3″ center, led Sweden’s Elitserien with 31 goals and finished second with 60 points in 54 games with Linkoping this season. That’s a decent set of mitts…for Europe. That distinction is important to remember for Bruins fans who think the cavalry is coming to rescue the team’s floundering offense (last night’s six-goal outburst against the sad-sack ‘Canes notwithstanding). Soderberg ain’t that guy.
But what he should be is a decent, two-way forward who can chip in the occasional goal, sort of a rich man’s Jordan Caron. The thinking has always been that he would line up on the wing for Boston’s third line, but a dearth of centers could earn him a look at his natural position.
Of course, playing center comes with additional defensive responsibilities in Boston’s system, and that may be too much to ask of the import.
“His defense isn’t as bad as people make it out to be,” a scout told SI.com today. “His play without the puck could use a little more intensity, but he’s not bad. He’s a smart man. He knows where to go. He’s big and strong and hard to knock off his feet… and hard to knock off the puck. His offense might translate better than some think. He’s got a great release and he’s not afraid to go to the net. I don’t know if I see Claude Julien being all that comfortable throwing him into the deep end this time of year, but he’s a good coach. He’ll figure out how to get the most from him.”
While we await official confirmation from the Bruins, it’s worth noting that there’s still time for a wrench to be thrown into the process. While the B’s reportedly have a deal with Soderberg, a deal with Linkoping to get him out of his SEL contract, and a transfer request in place from USA Hockey, the parties still need to get permission from the Swedish hockey federation. Word is they want Soderberg to play at the World Championships, which don’t get underway until May 3. If they choose to play hardball here, there’s not much the B’s can do but wait until next season.
In the meantime, here are a couple of videos to give you a taste of what he brings to the table.