By: Michael DiGiorgio | Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio
While we await the NHL’s decision to bring its players back, some Bruins-related news broke two nights ago on Twitter.
— CapFriendly Transactions (@CF_Transactions) June 15, 2020
Don Sweeney has not let up on the gas pedal when it comes to signing and developing his system during the pandemic, and this signing is no different. Victor Berglund is not a name Bruins fans would know unless they’ve purposefully sought him out or attended rookie and development camps.
Victor is a 20-year old Swedish defenseman who the Bruins drafted in the 7th round in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Historically, seventh-round draft picks have shown they’re more than just a flier for teams. The former Red Wing captain and Stanley Cup winner, Henrik Zetterberg, was drafted 210th overall, as well as Joe Pavelski, Patric Hornqvist, and Henrik Lundqvist. The Bruins hope that the same draft will be a crucial cog of their future after selecting Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Swayman, and Jack Studnicka all in 2017. Can Victor elevate that same draft class, and will we see him in the spoked-B any time soon?
The right-shot defenseman stands at 6’0, 180 pounds, and is set to turn 21 in August. The Bruins drafted Victor out of the SWE-1 League, which is Sweden’s second-tier hockey league. He has played on the same team in the SWE-1 league since 2016-17 through the pandemic suspended season. Each year, he has improved and surpassed his previous years’ stats.
Including this year before the pandemic, Victor had played a career total of 151 games, while tallying 43 points. The 43-point total is low, but he’s a defenseman who is still figuring out his game. Almost half of his points have come this year while sporting a plus-18 rating, and he sits third in the SWE-1 league among defenseman in goals. Victor played in four games for the Providence Bruins last year, where he scored his first AHL goal and assist.
Here’s Victor Berglund scoring his first career goal in his first ever game. He recognizes the space in front of him and receives a pass above the hashmarks. He then skates into it with his head up and lets one rip. Been saying it for a while, but the kid can shoot. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/IH5ZbmChec
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) April 6, 2019
There has always been an old saying around the league, “teams do not know what they have in a young defenseman until he plays at least 250 games.” The Bruins know this saying well, as they finally understand what they have in their young blue-liner, Brandon Carlo. Brandon showed flashes of what he can be and what he had to work on as he worked towards the 250-game plateau, and Victor is no different.
Berglund has been deemed a true offensive-defenseman with an impressive shot and awareness (as seen above in his first AHL goal). He has the Hockey IQ it takes to be an NHL defenseman, coupled with his skating ability. A defenseman’s duty isn’t necessarily to score, even if they’re deemed offensive-minded. Even during Erik Karlsson’s first Norris Trophy season, he clocked 59 assists and 19 goals.
Victor can follow suit and succeed by breaking the puck out of the defensive zone effectively and create plays for his teammates. Even if Berglund isn’t listed on the score sheet as the primary or secondary assists, its the ability to create plays and keep the flow for his teammates to score. Vision is a crucial component of a defenseman’s game, and Victor is already equipped with great awareness.
When Berglund was drafted in 2017, the Bruins scouts touted Berglund for his quick and powerful acceleration and strong stride. He projects to be a third-pairing defenseman on the Bruins roster, which is just as important as the first-pairing.
Just spoke with Victor Berglund following his first game in North America. Asked him if there are any players he looks up to and try’s to emulate— he said “Erik Karlsson” and “Klingberg.” Decent players to look up to. #NHLBruins
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) April 6, 2019
The two defensemen Victor looks up to are two of the league’s top defensemen. Both are considered one of the best offensive-minded players and have the hardware to back it up. Erik Karlsson has won the Norris Trophy (Best Defensemen) twice. Karlsson has 603 points in 736 career games, while John Klingberg has 291 points in 425 games. Victor has chosen two incredibly talented players to mirror, and it could help him improve his game immensely. He may not come close to the careers these players have achieved, but he can learn a lot from these well-respected blue-liners.
The Bruins are currently going through a transitional period with their defensive core. Before injuries, Kevan Miller and John Moore were the Bruins fifth and sixth defensemen. Miller, unfortunately, may have played his last game as a Bruin and possibly as an NHL player. There have been rumblings the Bruins are looking for a trade partner for John Moore. Moore could even be available for the next expansion draft.
If history repeats itself, Berglund could find himself fighting for an open roster spot when he’s deemed NHL-ready. This may take a few years, and the Bruins have shown they’re willing to give their players a shot to show his worth. He has a list of items to work on in the meantime, one of which is his size. In the real world, 6 feet is an above-average height for a male. In the hockey world, 6 feet is a shade under the NHL average of 6’1. His 180-pound frame is also quite small. To put it into comparison, Charlie McAvoy is 6’0, 208 pounds, which is 28 pounds heavier the Victor. It’s likely that the Bruins have given Victor a specific workout regimen to add size, which he will need to continue to do over the next few years.
For the upcoming 2020-21 season, Victor will be playing in Sweden’s top hockey league, Lulea, which is known as the second or third best hockey league in the world. He will face stiff competition and will need to add size to his game. His season in Lulea could be a make or break development year to show the Bruins if he is ready for the next step in his professional career.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!