Notre Dame rising junior Anders Bjork has signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins, forgoing his final year of NCAA eligibility. Bjork was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round, 146th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Bjork showed steady improvement over his three seasons at Notre Dame, going from 22 points as a freshman to 52 points as a junior. This past season, he also received the rare double honor of being named a finalist for both the Hobey Baker Award and Hockey Humanitarian Award.
We ranked Bjork as the 23rd-best NHL prospect in the NCAA this past season.
Bjork has always been a strong, fast two-way forward. He was the prototypical third line energy guy when playing for the US NTDP and on the US World Juniors team two years ago.
But Bjork has consistently improved his offensive production over the course of his career at Notre Dame from ‘fine’ as a freshman, to good as a sophomore, to now being one of the elite scorers in the country as a junior. Bjork’s combination of strength, agility, and creativity with his hands makes him very tough to defend one-on-one.
He likely still projects as more of an energy guy at the pro level, but his improvement offensively shows he might contribute more scoring at the next level too.
It doesn’t take long to notice his shiftiness. He can dart in and out of defensemen. He has that second gear that allows him to explode down the outside and blow by defenders in his way. What also really stands out is how quick his stick is. It helps him win those puck battles and get shots off rapidly.
His hockey sense and the way he can slow things down are also impressive traits. On the overtime winner, he was able to let the play come to him. He showed poise with the puck to draw defenders and allow Oglevie time to get in position for an easy one-timer. On the first goal, a breakaway score by Cam Morrison, he read a play in the neutral zone to pick off an errant pass. He then gave a tremendous feed that led Morrison perfectly.
Passing is something that has always come easy to Bjork, but his goal scoring touch has improved. He went from seven goals as a freshman to 12 as a sophomore. A summer spent honing his shooting skills has helped him nearly double that total this year.
—from our full feature on Bjork, March 27, 2017
Bjork skated with the US men’s national team at the recent IIHF World Championships. Bjork opted not to sign with Boston immediately following his collegiate season, prompting some concern that he may return to Notre Dame for his senior season and potentially become a free agent next summer, so his signing is a nice coup for the Bruins. It’s also a tough blow to Notre Dame to lose one of the top players in the country, though Bjork certainly showed he was ready for the next level this past season.