By Sam Minton | Follow me on Twitter @sam_minton22
One of the surprises of the 2021-22 Boston Bruins season has been the play of Oskar Steen. After spending most of his career in the AHL, Steen is now making a case for a permanent spot in the B’s starting lineup. Steen has played five games this season and has one goal three assists. Besides the stellar start, Steen just plays the game the right way. He fits into Boston perfectly. The winger is a strong skater who isn’t afraid to get involved in the dirty areas. He’s the perfect addition to the bottom six.
Bruce Cassidy is pleased with his play, and it appears that Steen is gaining confidence as he sticks around in the NHL. The winger spoke to the media on Tuesday.
“Yes, I do feel more confident right now,” he said. “I’ve been up here [a few] times this season. I get more and more confident every time. I feel my game in Providence has been really good, so that’s a key too.”
What once seemed like an easy decision is now a hard one. Do you keep Steen in the NHL or send him back down to the AHL when Boston is fully healthy?
“Well, what’s happened is [that] he’s come up and played well,” Bruce Cassidy said. “So, yeah, we’ve got a decision to make when it comes to him.”
With Jake DeBrusk in COVID-19 protocols, Steen is now on the third line with Nick Foligno and Charlie Coyle. This spot in the lineup is excellent for him as Coyle is a great playmaker, while Foligno is a powerful winger who can plant himself in the crease. It’s a perfectly balanced line.
Even if, and when, DeBrusk returns, there needs to be a spot for Steen in the lineup. With mediocre play, Trent Frederic could likely be the odd man out watching from the ninth floor with Steen lining up with Thomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar. One could even argue that DeBrusk should sit instead of Steen.
Steen hopes that this is just the beginning of his NHL career. On Tuesday, he said he hopes to end up on the top-six.
With prospects such as Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen failing to find their footing in the NHL, it’s pleasing to see Steen have success early on. Bruins fans will be hoping that the winger can maintain this level of performance moving forward.
But Steen has been a pleasant surprise for Boston this season and is proving that the future is still bright for the Bruins. If Boston wants to continue to be contenders when players such as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand retire, they will need prospects like Steen to continue to establish themselves in the NHL.