Boston Bruins prospect Anders Bjork has been a nice late round surprise. He is having an outstanding junior season as an alternate captain at the University of Notre Dame. Just how good has he been so far?
If Anders Bjork is still with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men’s Hockey team for his senior year, the team will no longer be in Hockey East. Notre Dame is set to move to the Big Ten come next season, which will consist of seven teams instead of six in the future. All of this might not matter for Bjork as much if he leaves for Boston after this season.
Season review so far
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I have seen Anders Bjork play in person a few times. There isn’t much that I have seen that he does poorly. This includes contests against Boston College in the past, as well as during Notre Dame’s two-game series in North Andover, Massachusetts against Merrimack College this past Friday and Saturday. The Fighting Irish went 1-1 against the Merrimack College Warriors, with Bjork playing well in both games. The first game ended with a 2-1 Notre Dame win, the second game ended with a 4-2 Merrimack win.
Hockey East’s third highest scorer, fifth in the NCAA, Anders Bjork is breaking out at the University of Notre Dame. The Mequon, Wisconsin native currently has 12 goals and 35 points in 23 games which makes for an impressive average of 1.52 points per game, as well as a plus-14 rating. His five game-winning goals this year put him in a tie for No. 1 in Division I of the NCAA with Robert Morris forward, Daniel Leavens and Michigan Tech forward, Jake Lucchini. Bjork had two points (1-1-2) in the two-game series with Merrimack.
His lone goal against the Warriors was the game winner on a rebound late in the third period, in the first of the two matchups. His lone assist came on the power play in the second game on a slap shot from the point from Notre Dame defenseman, Jordan Gross. He hasn’t been in the penalty box much this season, with just eight penalty minutes in 23 games, none of them being against Merrimack. For a fairly small guy (6 foot, 185 pounds), he played physical hockey against Merrimack, mainly in the corners.
Here is the one negative thing I noticed with Anders Bjork against Merrimack: Turnovers. He had about three or four turnovers in the two games against the Warriors. This is something that can be worked on, but it’s not the end of the world. As long it isn’t consistently a big problem.
Bjork is a weapon. He has excellent speed, elusiveness and vision. Displays a solid Hockey IQ, ability to find open space to make things happen, has a rocket of a shot and some very silky mitts. He doesn’t go out of his way to crush opponents. He creates scoring chances often, plays with an active stick and is good in all three zones. There was one instance in the second game where he weaved through every Merrimack player on the ice. It was a spectacle worth seeing. His skating seems so effortless sometimes, acceleration is very good.
Some AHL time could be beneficial for Anders Bjork before making the jump to the big club. It’s a possibility that he could play third-line left wing with someone like Ryan Spooner in the future. That is if Spooner is still on the team. Most people know at this point that Spooner has been involved in trade rumors in the past.
The speed and skill combination of Spooner and Bjork together would be insane. The right wing spot on a line like that would likely be more open than the center and left wing positions throughout the team’s forward core.
Beleskey, Vatrano, Marchand, Blidh, and Schaller are all some options on the left. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will likely still have the top-six center positions. David Pastrnak’s spot with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand seems to be the most secure of all right wings. Possibly still Backes on the second line, while the bottom-six right wing positions change often with guys like Riley Nash, Noel Acciari, Jimmy Hayes and Austin Czarnik. Maybe even Zachary Senyshyn come the 2017-2018 season. Whether all of those three players will be back next year is obviously yet to be seen. A top-nine winger, who can make things happen on offense is what I see with Anders Bjork.
Anders Bjork and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish still have long ways to go, in what could be his last NCAA season. If he continues to grow at the rate he has over the years past, he could be a pretty serviceable NHL forward.