BostonBruins.com - On the eve of Thursday's exhibition matchup against Columbus, a spotlight continued to shine over the young talent in the Bruins' locker room. During an afternoon press teleconference, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the team had agreed to terms with right-winger Anders Bjork on a three-year contract extension.
With an extension pushing through the 2022-2023 season and an annual cap hit of $1,600,000, Bjork finalized a deal with the B's during one of the most unusual hockey seasons in history.
"Obviously in the pandemic we did a lot of internal work and felt that this was a situation, forecasting what arbitration might look like, and adding years to whether or not it was a one- or two-year arbitration situation if it had ever gone to that," said GM Don Sweeney. "We decided to really welcome that as part of the process. We had good dialogue. The representative and Evan Gold did a lot of work on this, Brian Bartlett, and obviously Anders' family and we were all happy to find a landing spot."
During his conference, Sweeney made it clear that closing contract decisions this close to playoffs isn't part of any predesigned forumla.
"There's never any timeline - other than the obvious of when the season starts or players have arbitration. Some of those touch points that do present deadlines. In this case, we've just had real frequent discussions with Anders and his representatives and found the timing is such that he would like to get it done earlier than later, and we were fine with that."
As this year's schedule shifts into post-season mode, Sweeney believes he will not be the only General Manager signing on the dotted line.
"I think that the market will continue to take shape between now and when we do get up and running and players have to be signed," Sweeney said. "I think teams will do as we did - forecast properly in terms of what contract negotiation looks like versus what an arbitration looks like."
After acknowledging the struggles in Bjork's early career, Sweeney highlighted the noticeable improvement the Notre Dame Alum has demonstracted more recently.
"To see the fact that his game has been rounding out as a more complete two-way player, we use him in penalty kill situations, now he's able to settle on both left and right wing and I think that is where there's versatility in his game. I know he wants to continue to get better. He has to find the confidence at the NHL level to be able to score and finish. And if not, he's going to be a real good two-way hockey player that adds speed and versatility to the lineup."
Following Don Sweeney's words, Bjork joined the media conference to answer questions regarding his recent extension with the team.
"It's a good opportunity with such a fantastic team," Bjork stated. "I want to be in Boston playing for this team."
For a player who has tallied 34 points in 108 NHL games wearing the Black & Gold, Bjork believes finalizing a deal at this stage in the season could benefit his gameplay going into playoffs in Toronto.
"We felt that it was the right decision to sign it and just focus on playing. Not have to worry about that in this postseason at all. Now I can have my focus completely on where it should be on these playoffs right now and doing the best I can to help the team and help us achieve our goal."
Despite an injury-riddled start to his professional career, Bjork plans to use those experiences to push himself forward.
"Injuries were a big learning experience for me. That's why I'm proud to be able to take this next step and it means a lot to mYou face adversity every game and every season in one way or another. Learning how to deal with it is a valuable tool to have as a pro athlete. I think I learned a lot from that and hope to carry that on into just improving my game in general and reaching that potential that I had discussed."