On July 23, 2007, the Boston Bruins made a trade with the St. Louis Blues, swapping Finnish goalie Hannu Toivonen for Swedish winger Carl Söderberg. The trade took place almost six years ago, yet Söderberg didn’t see his first action as a Bruin until the final two weeks of the 2013 season.
The man they call “the yeti” was an incredibly difficult get for Boston.
This past April, after years of trying to get Söderberg across the pond to the NHL, Boston was finally able to sign the Swede to a contract. Unfortunately, days later the Swedish Ice Hockey Association blocked the release of Söderberg to the NHL. They wanted him to play for their national team in this year’s IIHF World Championships, not for the Bruins.
You couldn’t blame his homeland, what with Söderberg having an amazing season for Linköpings HC, scoring 31 goals and 29 assists for 54 points. But Boston fans were upset to say the least. Söderberg had become a unicorn for the Bruins as a skilled, mythical player they technically had the rights to, but couldn’t get into a Boston uniform.
However, when all seemed lost, news came out that Söderberg was refusing to play for the Swedish national team, and before you knew it he was on his way Boston.
Söderberg only saw six games of regular season action for the Bruins, notching two assists. Not surprisingly, he was declared a healthy scratch at the opening of the playoffs, and he has been watching games from the press box ever since.
One has to wonder, though, if he’ll see some postseason action in the near future.
The Bruins are indeed a contender for the Stanley Cup this year, but their lack of consistent offense is troubling. Söderberg could certainly present an option when it comes to generating some life into Boston’s offensive attack. It’s risky, especially since he’s still getting used to the NHL, and we all know the regular season is night and day compared to the playoffs.
Still, there are a couple of players on the Bruins who might be worth sacrificing, just for a night or two, to see what this kid can do.
One choice, albeit probably an unpopular suggestion, would be fourth-liner Shawn Thornton.
This seems pretty unlikely, especially since the New York Rangers are a gritty and defensive team. Thornton’s physical, grinding style of play can benefit the Bruins against teams like New York. The only reason he’d be suggested is that his minutes shrink in close games, and when coach Claude Julien begins shortening his bench in high-pressure situations, Thornton is the first to take a seat.
A more intriguing, possibly controversial suggestion? How about Jaromir Jagr?
Look, I know the mighty Jagr was the big name acquisition at the trade deadline, and he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer that has made a career of stat sheet stuffing.
Here’s the problem; is he playing effective hockey right now?
Age has affected him, and he looks pretty slow coming off the breakout. One could even suggest he’s developed a lack of confidence in his linemates. You can’t blame him for not being a fan of lining up with grinders Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.
Last night, though, Jagr was moved up to a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Nothing seemed to look any different. His distrust might even be hitting a concerning level, as he tries to do too much on his own and has even been seen stealing pucks from his own players.
Is it worth giving Jagr a seat to see Söderberg in action?
Maybe, but barring injury I wouldn’t count on it.
Jagr’s name alone is going to keep him on the ice, and the team gave up some assets to bring him into the fold. There’s no way he gets benched for an inexperienced Söderberg. The Bruins are most likely going to keep rolling with Jagr and wait for the results.
So what are the odds Söderberg laces up the skates for the Bruins this postseason?
At the moment, they’re slim. A rash of injuries not unlike the one Boston’s defense is currently enduring would help his cause, but it’s looking like we may have to wait until next year to see the yeti on the ice again.