Dynamic Swedish center Carl Soderberg has long been the apple of NHL teams’ eyes. Selected in 2004 by the Blues in the NHL Entry Draft, Soderberg has remained in Sweden, eschewing potential US stardom in the NHL. His steadfast choice to stay close to home prompted the prospect watchers at Hockey’s Future to declare he was “[u]nlikely to return to North America.”
But articles in the Swedish press on back-to-back days this week hint the 26 year-old may be reconsidering his position. First came the mention in Expressen that he’d mull over his future this summer. Most explosive were the comments from his agent, peter Werner of CAA Sports, that they would consider a two-way contract to enable him to acclimate in the AHL. Boston holds the rights to Soderberg and has since 2007 when they traded former first round draft pick Hannu Toivonen to the Blues for them.
Not to be outdone, Corren.se caught up with Bruins European scout Svenåke Svensson. Svensson confirmed the Bruins would take a long look at Soderberg. Below the fold, we’ll take a look at Soderberg’s talent and potential.
Boston’s depth at center is widely remarked upon. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci are the headliners with Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly also logging significant minutes up front. The balance and depth at the position is a huge luxury for the team. The question Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien would need to answer is whether Soderberg would add to that embarrassment of riches or merely get lost in the B’s center shuffle.
Noted primarily for his explosive talent in the offensive zone, Soderberg has the makings of being a solid two-way player. His quickness can facilitate both getting around defenders as well hustling back on a break away. His awareness when moving with the puck is very highly regarded, as is his overall hockey sense. On offense, he can set up linemates with opportunities of finish those created by others. That’s the kind of package that is tough to turn down, and the Bruins shouldn’t hesitate.
Chiarelli has left the Bruins with a modest chunk of cap space for trade deadline acquisitions this season. But next year with several potential UFA’s – among them Kelly and Campbell – he may have some money to spend and some space for a quality center. At 26, Soderberg is still in his prime physically.
Bruins fans are right to be skeptical. Soderberg has stayed entrenched in Sweden for nearly a decade. And until he is on the ice of an NHL regular season game, some won’t believe he’s actually coming to America. But if he is amenable, there is no better time for Boston to make a move.