Will Carl Soderberg Give Boston Bruins the Edge Needed for Deep Playoff Run?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IApril 17, 2013

Carl Soderberg with Team Sweden in international competition.
Carl Soderberg with Team Sweden in international competition.Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins have added another forward to their roster for the end of the regular season and playoffs with the signing of Swedish forward Carl Soderberg.

His contract is for three years with an annual average value (AAV) of $1,008,333, per CapGeek.

The 27-year-old center led Sweden's Elite League this season with 31 goals as a member of Linkoping HC. He also added 29 assists for a total of 60 points in 54 games.

Soderberg won't play in Wednesday night's game at TD Garden versus the Buffalo Sabres, but since he skated with the team during Wednesday morning's skate, there is a chance he could make his Bruins debut on Friday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"He just got in [Tuesday] night and we’re giving him a chance to skate today, do the warmup, and then practice with us tomorrow," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wednesday. "And we’ll see where we stand with him by Friday."

Julien also shared his observations of Soderberg from his first practice with the team.

"He’s a big, strong guy. He’s a good skater. I saw some good things. We put him on the power play there at the end, after practice, and see how he’s handling the puck.

"We’re trying to get a feel of what he can bring too. The feeling was pretty optimistic, I liked what I saw from him. Obviously, he’s got good size, he’s a big player. He normally plays center, he can play wing, so when the time comes we’ll make that decision on where we want to put him."

The problem for the Bruins over the last month has been a lack of goal scoring. In its last 15 games, Boston has a mediocre 7-7-1 record with an average of just 2.26 goals scored per game over that span.

Injuries to top-six forwards such as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have contributed to this lack of scoring, but even after the trade deadline acquisition of veteran winger Jaromir Jagr (who has been awesome thus far), the Bruins still don't have enough elite offensive skill to make a deep playoff run unless Tuukka Rask plays at or near the level that Tim Thomas did during the 2011 Stanley Cup run.

If Soderberg makes an impact, he will add the remaining amount of offensive skill needed for the Bruins to beat strong defensive teams (such as the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Penguins) in the postseason if the goaltending isn't strong.

The Swedish forward is an impressive playmaker because of his passing skill, creativity and high hockey IQ. He's willing to go into the corners to win puck battles and also fight in front of the net to score the dirty goals. His shot has a quick release and is accurate.

Much like Jagr, Soderberg uses his size and strength (6'3", 218 pounds) to protect the puck well and find the open man.

Since the Bruins have the top penalty kill in the NHL, don't expect to see Soderberg killing penalties, but he could make an impact on the team's struggling power play as a finisher as well as someone capable of handling the puck at the point and creating scoring chances.

Due to the Bruins' abundance of depth at the center position, Soderberg will likely play on the wing, which shouldn't be a problem for him because he's a versatile forward.

Playing him alongside a quality playmaker like David Krejci or Bergeron would be a good experiment to test out before the playoffs. Since the Bergeron, Marchand and Tyler Seguin line is rarely broken up because of its chemistry, putting Soderberg with Krejci and Jagr makes a lot of sense.

In the postseason, every team needs forwards who will make a positive impact at both ends of the ice. Defense, blocking shots and playing physical are more important in the playoffs than in the regular season, which is why many offensively strong teams with top-six forwards who aren't responsible defensively rarely win the Stanley Cup (Vancouver Canucks are one example).

One of the best strengths of Soderberg's game is his ability to play on any line, in any situation, alongside many different kinds of players. His two-way skill set makes this possible.

Soderberg's ability to score goals, create scoring chances and also play responsible defense by backchecking and getting into shooting lanes will give him an opportunity to earn plenty of ice time with the Bruins.

He has a ton of offensive talent and it will be interesting to see how his skills translate to the NHL, because European leagues have larger ice surfaces and the overall physicality of the action is a far cry from what's found in North America.

Fans shouldn't expect Soderberg to be a dominating player right away because of his lack of NHL experience, but he will add some valuable scoring depth and offensive skill to a roster that has been impacted by injuries in recent weeks.

In the playoffs, depth is often more important than overall talent and Soderberg will give Boston a boost in both areas.


Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He has also covered the Boston Bruins since the 2010-11 season. Follow him on Twitter. All quotes obtained firsthand or from Bruins media website. Salary information courtesy of CapGeek.