Tenacious around the puck in the Bruins rookie camp last September, Karson Kuhlman was called up from AHL Providence on Wednesday and was on a plane headed west for a five-game road trip that begins Friday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Kuhlman, who won an NCAA title with University Minnesota-Duluth last spring, ranked fourth among current WannaBs in scoring (12-13—25 in 50 games).
Kuhlman is a right-shot center capable of playing the wing, and comes aboard the varsity only 24 hours after the Bruins announced that top goal scorer David Pastrnak will be sidelined for at least two weeks after surgery to repair a tendon in his left thumb.
“A dog on a bone,” was how Bruins general manager Don Sweeney portrayed Kuhlman’s puck-hunting in rookie camp.
Kuhlman, 23, signed with Boston as a free agent last spring, a two-year deal guaranteeing him a minimum $315,000 over two years, according to capfriendly.com. His pay at the NHL level: $750,000 per season.
The Bruins will include Kuhlman in his first varsity practice early on Thursday afternoon. He is aboard as an extra forward, but it would not be a surprise to see him make his NHL debut either Friday or Saturday (vs. the Kings), given the club is playing on back-to-back nights.
Coach Bruce Cassidy lately has opted not to suit up veteran winger David Backes (5-8—13) in both games of a back-to-back set. If Kuhlman were to slot into the third line at right wing, he would ride with Joakim Nordstrom (LW) on a trio pivoted by ex-Providence teammate Trent Frederic.
Kuhlman was never a prolific college scorer, but he averaged roughly 10 goals and 20 points in his four seasons with the Bulldogs. He played three seasons for USHL Dubuque prior to entering college as a freshman in 2014.
The Bruins are 5-0-3 in their last eight games and have not lost in regulation since Jan. 19, to the Rangers on Causeway Street. With 32 wins and 25 games to go, they still have a chance to reach 50 wins for a second straight season under Cassidy. They never posted consecutive 50-win seasons during Claude Julien’s time behind the bench . . . Brad Marchand’s 1-3—4 vs. Chicago Tuesday night equaled his one-game point high for the season (0-4—4 vs. Buffalo on Oct. 4). He has three or more assists in five games this season. He’ll carry a five-game scoring streak of 3-9—12 into Friday night’s matchup with the Ducks . . . Patrice Bergeron is also working on a five-game scoring streak (4-5—9) . . . Cassidy did not announce his goaltending plans, but it’s likely Rask and Jaroslav Halak each get a start over the next two (Anaheim and Los Angeles). Depending on performance, Rask then might get the starts vs. San Jose, Vegas, and St. Louis . . . If Kuhlman makes his NHL debut on the trip, he’ll be the 19th forward to suit up for the Bruins this season. He would become the 15th former NCAA player to crack the lineup.