Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carl Soderberg: "Sweden > Providence"

The Boston Globe reports today... well, pretty much the same stuff I reported two weeks ago. But unlike this humble blogger, they're on Pete Chiarelli's speed dial. Therefore they scooped me on this one: Carl Soderberg has decided to forgo Bruins training camp and spend at least one more season in Sweden.

As mentioned in my prior post, Soderberg's ongoing will-he-or-won't-he drama has proved a tad deflating for Bruins fans. At one point his acquisition from St. Louis (for odd-goalie-out Hannu Toivonen) seemed like a shrewd swap -- a mediocre backup goalie who would never see time in Boston for a high-scoring forward capable of partnering with the likes of Savard and Bergeron.

But as is so often the case with European superstars, Soderberg has been less than enthusiastic about playing in North America. According to Chiarelli, the Swede is holding out until he can be an impact player in the NHL. In other words, he wants assurance that he won't simply be dumped in Providence after training camp. Sounds reasonable enough.

But there's a lot lingering in between the lines. Soderberg is 22. He would be trying out for a team heavy on prospects in the 18-22 age bracket. Why does he feel he can't already be an "impact" player in a youth-heavy organization? Is he really capable of hanging with NHL talent if he can't beat out Blake Wheeler for a roster spot? Isn't he at least confident enough to attend camp first, and then make a decision about his prospects? Frankly, a 22-year-old who is almost certain he'll end up in the minors isn't much of a prospect to begin with.

More importantly, there's the matter of what would happen if Soderberg did commit to playing on this side of the pond. Clearly he's more comfortable staying in Sweden and will only make the leap if he's assured of an NHL-sized paycheck. We've heard this story before: European dynamo becomes sulking recluse after cutting ties with home country to play in big, strange American city. The last thing the Bruins need on the roster is a guy who's pining over a girl in Stockholm during the second overtime of a playoff game in Montreal.

With Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler already fitting the role of "budding young star with character issues", Soderberg might find his decision to be a bit more permanent than he expects.

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President of Bruins Nation said...

Great call on the Carl Soderberg situation.

And it's nice to see an optimistic Bruins fan.

Andrew Knoll said...

Well I think now that the season is in full swing you can understand why Soderberg did not believe he was assured a roster spot. You matter-of-factly crap on Blake Wheeler here (twice actually) but he has been excellent. Kessel and Kreijci had roster spots either way but of course they are also going nuts.

It may be a surprise that the B's forwards are as effective as they are but as far as getting a roster spot, it's not a surprise at all that they are as deep as we see now.

Soderberg is not some kid staying in Brampton or Medicine Hat, he is playing in one of the top leagues in the world and playing pretty well in it. I would not write him off although my guess is that he breaks in with another team given the depth Boston has at forward between this current group and Colborne. Sobotka, probably the same deal, I see him being moved before he puts on the black and gold.

Tom said...

I don't think I "crapped" on Wheeler by suggesting that he and Soderberg would have been in competition for a roster spot. Were you looking for higher praise than "budding young star" for a guy who'd never stepped on NHL ice?

My issue with Soderberg was that he didn't bother to show up to training camp, didn't want to even test himself against his North American counterparts and at least fight for a roster spot for a couple of weeks. I'd rather have a guy like Wheeler, who redirected his entire career in order to play in Boston.