TORONTO — If the Bruins are going to get scoring help on the wing for the playoffs, it won’t be from Anders Bjork. The rookie right winger was shut down for the season Thursday, the Bruins announcing that he underwent surgery on his left shoulder that will keep him sidelined for some six months.
Bjork, 21, banged up the shoulder Jan. 30, exiting a game at the Garden in obvious pain after what initially appeared to be a harmless collision with Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin.
According to the Bruins, Bjork underwent surgery Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital, with Dr. Peter Asnis performing a labral repair.
The labrum consists of cartilage that is critical to the shoulder’s function. The common sports injury is a labrum tear. Per the Bruins, Asnis performed the surgery arthroscopically and they termed the procedure successful.
Signed out of Notre Dame following his junior season (2016-17), Bjork was among the fastest skaters in training camp and made his NHL debut on the Bruins’ No. 1 line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Only five weeks into the season, with a 2-6—9 line in 16 games, he was lined up in open ice and crushed with a shoulder hit to the head area by Toronto’s Matt Martin. The hit appeared to leave Bjork concussed — something the club never confirmed — and he was held out of the lineup until Dec. 2.
Never quite the same upon his return, Bjork was in and out of the lineup and picked up only 3 more points in the 14 games prior to exiting in the Anaheim game.
With Bjork out of the equation, general manager Don Sweeney probably will be more incentivized to add scoring help prior to the trading deadline Monday at 3 p.m. In a move announced less than two hours before the update on Bjork, the Bruins shipped spare winger Frank Vatrano to the Panthers for a third-round draft pick.
It would appear the Bruins, in need of bolstering their wing position, have an acquisition in mind or perhaps in the works.
Otherwise, dealing Vatrano wouldn’t make sense.
He is not a proven scorer, but he has shown potential in spurts, and Bjork’s extended stay on the DL might have opened up some playing time for the favorite son of East Longmeadow, Mass.
Rumors in recent days have had the Bruins interested in a number of wingers believed to be available around the league, including Patrick Maroon (Edmonton), Tomas Vanek (Vancouver), Rick Nash (Rangers), and Michael Grabner (Rangers).
Vatrano, 23, produced a meager 2-0—2 line in 25 games this season and has been sidelined of late by injury.
The deal with Florida effectively replaces the third-round pick the Bruins yielded Tuesday when acquiring Nick Holden from the Rangers, a deal that also sent prospect Rob O’Gara, the ex-Yale defenseman from Long Island, to the Blueshirts.
Vatrano, who left UMass after two years in 2015 to sign as a free agent with Boston, mangled an ankle prior to the start of the 2016 training camp, when he was pegged to ride on one of the top two lines.
Following ankle surgery, he finally joined the team around Christmas, and delivered only 10-8—18 in 44 games.
Waiting to see
Holden wasted no time departing Broadway and worked out on his own here Thursday with Vatrano.
Coach Bruce Cassidy will get his first look at Holden in the morning workout Friday at Ricoh Coliseum, and it would be a surprise if the veteran defenseman (356 NHL games) were to crack the lineup right away.
“We’ll get back at it tomorrow morning and see where we’re at,” said Cassidy Thursday. “I would think [he needs some practice time]. Let’s see him in a regular practice first and go from there.
“I don’t have a definitive answer when he’d go in. Team practice tomorrow and make decisions from there.”
The Alberta-born Holden, 30, is 3-9—12 in 55 games this season. He ranked No. 5 among New York blue liners with an average 18:58 time on ice. That would rank No. 5 on the Bruins, sandwiched between Brandon Carlo (19:20) and Kevan Miller (18:35).
With Carlo expected to remain partnered with Torey Krug on the No. 2 unit, Holden projects as a third-pairing running mate with either Miller or Adam McQuaid.
He is certainly expected to see more ice time than Wade Redden, another ex-Ranger, who was added at the deadline in 2013 and played in only six games in the regular season and then five more in the playoffs. Redden, then 35 years old, never played in the NHL again.
Power is lacking
His club is challenging for the top spot in the overall standings, but Cassidy still feels some fixin’ is needed, particularly on the power play.
Three games into a five-game road trip, the Bruins have been blanked on the man advantage in Vancouver (0 for 5), Calgary (0 for 2), and Edmonton (0 for 3).
“I don’t like our execution lately,” said Cassidy. “It hasn’t hurt us much, but at some point it will.”
Through 58 games, the Bruins have 37 power-play goals, fewer than 14 other clubs, including the lowly Canucks, Rangers, and Canadiens.
“It’s not where it needs to be,” said Cassidy, noting that the club tried tweaking entries into the offensive zone in Edmonton. “Needs to improve.”
Bergeron, the bumper on the power play, leads the club in PPGs (9) and is tied with David Pastrnak in power-play points (17).
David Krejci delivered the game-winning goal in Edmonton, and he connected with new wingers David Backes and Danton Heinen each picking up assists.
Despite that, Cassidy will return his lines to normal for the Friday workout, with Krejci back between Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner, and Backes and Heinen flanking Riley Nash.
“Just one of those in-game decisions we made again,” said Cassidy. “We didn’t like what we saw throughout the lineup. We left a couple of lines alone, got a goal out of it, which is good.
“Good for Krech, he had a number of good looks on the trip and hopefully everyone’s line is going again.”
That said, Cassidy said he liked the reconfigured looks, particularly with the 6-3/220 Backes providing a “heavier body’’ on right wing for Krejci than the 5-10/185 Spooner.
To that point, 210 games found clubs in a two-goal deficit after 40:00. Three wins worked to a 1.43 success rate.
Given the low chances in such situations, Cassidy was asked about the wisdom of starting the third period with the goalie pulled for an extra skater.
“I don’t know what to say, to be honest with you,” he said. “We have the lead more than we’re chasing it, so I kind of like the numbers, to be honest with you.”