Well it doesn’t look like we can expect Anders Bjork to sign with the Bruins any time soon. He’ll be headed off to the World Championships to play for Team USA.
Am I concerned that Bjork is going to opt to not sign with the Bruins and go back to Notre Dame for his Senior season? You bet.
The only carrot that NHL teams have to get NCAA prospects to sign is to entice them to burn a year of their contract by playing in one NHL game, like what the Bruins have done with Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacca Karlsson. Once Notre Dame made the Frozen Four and Bjork would not be able to get into a regular season game that carrot was thrown out the window. The Bruins wouldn’t let a prospect make their NHL debut in the playoffs would they? In my opinion if the Bruins did not have a M.A.S.H unit for a defensive core McAvoy would have stayed down with Providence.
Bottom line, the World Championships will be a fantastic experience for Bjork. Frank Vatrano played in this tournament last year and it is a good development experience. He will be playing with and against NHL talent. Bjork will be joining his Notre Dame teammate, goalie, Cal Petersen.
I am still optomistic that will Bjork will become a Bruin. Maybe not this season, but after next season. Hopefully he doesn’t go all Jimmy Vesey on the B’s and take the free agency route. Technically the Bruins have until August 15th, 2018 to sign Bjork.
It doesn’t help that Notre Dame is a special campus. It is in a small town, with a relatively small student body (about 10,000), and with big time athletics. Bjork’s father played there as did his cousin, Eric Condra. There is just something about going to school there that students love. There is a lot of school pride and a rich history.
Bjork’s teammate Cal Petersen wrote an article for the Players Tribune and in it he explained some of the feelings going to Notre Dame, “I was excited when I got asked to visit Notre Dame. My family was excited. After I made my first visit, my parents told me to wait a bit and really consider my options. But I called Coach Jackson the night I got home. I couldn’t wait. It just felt right. The campus, the facilities, the culture, the history — there was a sense of a pride that I could feel right when I stepped foot on campus. This was home for me…….There’s so much tradition at Notre Dame. And it’s so exciting to be able to play in front of a college crowd that’s your friends, classmates and alumni — all die-hard Irish supporters. It’s the kind of environment you live for, and there is nothing that rivals Compton Family Ice Arena on a Friday or Saturday night. With the band blasting the fight song throughout the building, there is only one goal that comes to your mind, and in giant letters in the building, everyone is reminded: Onward to Victory.”
Here is my take on the situation of Bjork not signing with the Bruins yet: Notre Dame had 8 NHL draft picks on their roster this past season. Four of them were Juniors, Bjork, Petersen (Buffalo), Connor Hurley (Buffalo), and Jake Evans (Montreal). Not one of these players have signed with the team that drafted them yet. The Junior season for most NCAA draft picks is usually the year they leave, but for some reason none of these guys have left yet. Why is this? All these players are well regarded as prospects.
Well, next season will be Notre Dame’s first playing in the Big 10 Conference. They lost to Denver in the Frozen Four a few weeks ago in Chicago as the host. Notre Dame is only graduating 2 seniors and one of them was a backup goalie. Could these guys have gotten together and decided they are all going to stay for a run at a National Championship? In my opinion that is what the tea leafs are telling me. I could be wrong, but I find it strange that none of Notre Dame’s 8 NHL prospects have signed. It bucks the trend, but it seems like Notre Dame is different than other schools.
I really would hate for the Bruins to lose Bjork to free agency. I hope it is more about staying in college one more year with his buddies to try to bring a National Championship to South Bend. That is something I understand and something I can get behind. But you gotta keep your fingers crossed that the end game is Bjork in Boston.