RALEIGH, NC – Ending one of the longest and strangest pursuits of a European prospect in recent memory, the Bruins finally announced on Saturday that they’d signed the elusive Carl Soderberg to a three-year deal, with an annual cap hit of $1 million, and he has officially been cleared by the NHL to return to Boston.
Soderberg will join the team on Wednesday after getting his US work visa in order, and is eligible to jump into the Bruins lineup at any point during the regular season and the playoffs.
The Swedish International Hockey Federation had attempted to step in and block Soderberg’s contract so he could play for his home country in the upcoming World Championships, but the NHL correctly ruled that his new contract with the Bruins – and satisfactory buyout terms for his association with SEL team Linkoping – superseded any petty demands from the SIHF.
Soderberg is eligible for the Stanley Cup playoffs now that he’s been signed prior to the end of the regular season, and could be a big help to a Bruins team always looking for some size and offense. He had 31 goals and 60 points in 54 Swedish Elite League games this season, and brings a 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame into the mix along with a set of skills that has scouts drooling. “He’s a big body, and he’s a really good shot too,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “He could definitely help us.”
Soderberg will clearly add to Boston’s depth for their upcoming playoff run, but expectations should be modest for the 27-year-old given the super-sized expectations and hype that have turned him into a cult hero with diehard Bruins fans over the years.
It could take a European prospect quite awhile to adjust to the demands within the NHL style of play given that he’s never played a game outside of his native Europe. The Bruins have been in hot pursuit of Soderberg since his rights were traded to Boston from the St. Louis Blues in 2006-07 in exchange for Finnish goaltender Hannu Toivonen. Soderberg had always refused to leave his native Sweden to play hockey in North America – and had even refused overtures to leave his hometown and play in the Swedish Elite League until a couple of seasons ago -- raising doubts if he ever had the desire to play in the NHL. But now the Bruins have finally brought the mythic Swedish forward to Boston for his first look in a Black-and-Gold uniform at a time when the B’s could use a few extra bodies with some offensive skill.
The quick and dirty scouting report on Soderberg: he’s a big-bodied European player that will use his large frame to protect pucks and has a quality shot and release that should produce goals at the NHL level.
He’s not the quickest skater, but should be perfectly serviceable for a big man. He did get suspended in the SEL playoffs for a cross-check to the head, but does not really have that nasty edge to his game on a regular basis. His ability to deal with bigger, stronger and meaner opponents at the NHL and his ability to adjust to North America’s smaller ice surfaces will tell the tale of how good he can be in Boston.