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Bruins prospect Oskar Steen can take inspiration from Brad Marchand

Oskar Steen was a sixth-round draft pick of the Bruins in 2016.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Oskar Steen earned his way back to the Bruins varsity lineup Sunday night, filled in capably on a line with Jake DeBrusk and Erik Haula, even picked up an assist on Charlie Coyle’s game-winning goal against Montreal.

All in all, a nice night’s work for Steen, a sixth-round draft pick in 2016. He logged 11:31 in ice time, fired one shot (blocked), and displayed the gumption to hustle back on defense, stick ready, remaining engaged across the full 200-foot sheet of ice. Sounds basic, but the truth is not every callup so deftly adheres to details.

No telling what any of that will mean for Steen’s immediate future. He was returned on loan Monday to AHL Providence, but he could possibly play there Friday, then zip down to Philadelphia and be in the lineup again Saturday night when the Bruins play the Flyers.


Such is NHL life as an unproven 23-year-old. No guarantees. But Steen, 5-5—10 in his 10 games with Providence, looks like he could be a smart fit as a bottom-six winger or center (his preferred spot) and maybe even chip in here and there on the scoresheet.

Oskar Steen was a sixth-round pick of the Bruins in 2016.Bruce Bennett/Getty

Perhaps he could be even more than that, which is the delightful mystery in watching prospects develop.

It may seem a century ago, but Brad Marchand was put through the same rigors after being drafted 71st overall in 2006. He showed more offensive pop than Steen in his season and a half with Providence, but he was widely projected as a third- or fourth-line energy guy upon his Causeway Street arrival amid the 2009-10 season.

“I didn’t see what he is now,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, then an assistant coach in Providence, asked to recall his estimation of Marchand’s career arc. “And that’s 100 percent on Brad and his work ethic.”


Since Cassidy’s arrival here in February 2017, Marchand has developed into one of the game’s premier left wingers. One of Cassidy’s initial moves was to plug Marchand regularly into power-play duty, and he has thrived there, positioned either at the net front or over on the half-wall.

Truth is, Marchand is the developmental exception. Precious few minor league players arrive as third- or fourth-line pluggers and then blossom into elite shooters, playmakers and, above all, producers.

“I thought he’d be a tenacious energy guy who could score, because he had a good shot back then,” Cassidy said. “It was unpredictable. He was off-net a lot, wild, but he learned to harness it.”

Oskar Steen takes a shot from Montreal's Brett Kulak during the second period of Sunday's game at TD Garden.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

An essential key to Marchand’s success, lacking in many prospects, has been his willingness to dart into the toughest area on the ice, attack the net from short range. Again, sounds basic, but getting to the net is essential for scorers, though many are reluctant to pay the price.

“He always had lots of courage to get inside,” Cassidy said. “But his vision for seams and all that has grown for him quite a bit — seeing things, making plays off the rush.”

The Bruins have put a lot of young candidates to the test in recent years. Most either have failed or, slow to blossom, have watched the Bruins lose patience and ship them out. Prime examples: Ted Donato, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen.

We find out now if it will be different for Steen. Will he get a chance to stick? Can he at least cut it as a bottom-six NHL regular? Can he beat all odds and scale up the order like Marchand?


A tough ask, for sure, but not impossible. The delightful mystery is Steen’s to write.

Star man

Charlie McAvoy, who Sunday night turned in the first two-goal performance of his career, was named the NHL’s second star of the week. In four games, lMcAvoy popped for 2-5—7 . . . Despite losing 10 of 15 draws vs. the Canadiens, Patrice Bergeron has a whopping 62.3 percent win rate at the faceoff dot — best of the 16 NHLers who have taken more than 250 draws . . . Jakub Zboril again looked like a smarter, more confident version of himself Sunday, the first time he has played in back-to-back games this season. Zibby is likely to get the call again Saturday vs. the Flyers, probably sidelining Mike Reilly for a third straight time.

Great rate

The Marchand-Bergeron-David Pastrnak trio, with 45 points in 13 games, is on track for 284 points, which would be a career best for that line. They were sizzling in 2019-20, the season clipped short by COVID-19, projected for 279 points when things came to a halt after the games of March 11 . . . If he has a strong week of practice, Linus Ullmark will be back in net Saturday, with Jeremy Swayman (three straight wins) on the job Sunday at TD Garden vs. Calgary . . . Ex-Bruins goalie Dan Vladar, swapped to the Flames when the Bruins signed Ullmark, blanked the Senators, 4-0, Sunday on 27 shots . . . Providence plays host to Hartford Friday and Wilkes Barre-Scranton Saturday.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.