The elusive Carl Soderberg, after an awkward battle to get him to the NHL, finally became a Boston Bruins player much to the delight of his fans. If not everyone has heard of him before, it is okay seeing as he has spent virtually all of his career in Sweden despite being drafted in the 2004 NHL Draft. There were low expectations for Soderberg earlier this year given his brief adjustment period at the end of last season in which he was totally unfamiliar with the Bruins’ system. Now, as he adjusts to his new team, expectations will rise as he and the Bruins try to figure out his role for next year.
Soderberg, to those that may not know, is a complete and well rounded forward who has had loads of success in the Swedish leagues. In the past five full seasons, he has averaged slightly over a point a game with double-digit goals and assists. He has fantastic technique and a quick release while possessing the power to hold up the puck with his 6-foot-3 height and large 218-pound frame. There is no question that Soderberg is an exemplary talent. The only question is what position he will play next season.
The Bruins’ third line has been a question mark all offseason since it is one with the most problems to address. Instead of addressing who will fill in the right side, there may be a change at center too. Soderberg’s natural position is center, but that is currently occupied by Chris Kelly. With trade rumors about Kelly not yet coming to fruition, he will likely be a Bruin next year. Now the center spot appears to be up for grabs with Soderberg in the mix. Soderberg has the greater talent for the job, but Kelly has been holding that position down for awhile. Coach Claude Julien has a lot of thinking to do about this dilemma, especially given the importance of the Bruins’ style of play that demands a lot from the centers.
Most likely, Soderberg will end up getting the spot and Kelly will move to the left wing. Kelly has the toughness, but Soderberg has the talent and it makes no sense to make things harder for the Swede by making him adjust to the new position. I doubt the Bruins would have signed him for the purpose of making him a winger when he is already in the prime of his career as a 27-year old and has already racked up an impressive stat sheet.
It will be a difficult pill for Kelly to swallow to make way for the new guy but one that is necessary for the team. Fans should not be surprised to see more of Soderberg now once they will be able to see what he can do at his natural position. There is no definite answer of what role Soderberg will have, but it is a safe bet that the Bruins will do what they can to get the most of out him even at the expense of moving other players around.
Tim N. is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou