Oskar Steen Bruins

Oskar Steen has a chance to prove he belongs to stick with the Bruins full time.

BOSTON — There are multitudes of Bruins fans who will quote chapter and verse about how, with the exception of defenseman Brandon Carlo, that the 2015 NHL Draft was a complete and utter disaster for the Bruins.

Many of those same Black-and-Gold denizens will turn around and rave about the 14th overall pick in 2016, franchise blueliner Charlie McAvoy, and say the best is still to come for that year’s other first rounder, pugilistic forward Trent Frederic.

But aside from the true diehards, how many local hockey savants know much about the guy taken in the sixth round, 165th overall, of that 2016 Entry Draft?

Are they aware of a player who can bring both scoring touch and sandpaper to the table, a potential steal who should probably have a full-time role in Boston in the winter of 2022 to see just how his talents translate on a nightly basis at the highest level?

That’d be Oskar Steen.

A sturdy 5-foot-9 and a tick under 200 pounds, Steen is a right shot who can play either center or right wing. Since being recalled from AHL Providence — where he was leading the club in scoring with 10 goals and a like number of assists in just 16 games — on New Year’s Day, Steen has shown in three games skating with the spoked-B on his chest that he can play with the big boys.

Two nights after scoring his first NHL goal, Steen was again in the Bruins’ lineup Thursday night in a 3-2 home loss to the Minnesota Wild. On the right side with center Charlie Coyle and veteran Nick Foligno on the left, the 23-year Swede continued to make good decisions with the puck, forechecked well, won puck battles along the walls and did his due diligence defensively.

Steen didn't get a ton of run -- just 9 minutes and 41 seconds of ice time -- but he made the most of it, with a team-high three takeaways, a blocked shot and one hit. He was at his best in the third period, generating a number of good chances for his line, including a slick pass to Coyle in the shot with about five-and-a-half minutes to play that, had his centerman connected, would've been the tying goal.

Thursday marked Steen’s sixth game in Boston this season; he had a goal and three assists in the first five. His first NHL marker, coming in Tuesday’s win over New Jersey, came after he alertly batted home a puck out of mid air out front while not getting his stick above crossbar level in doing so.

This is only Steen’s third professional season in North America, having honed his game back home for Färjestad BK in the Swedish Hockey League (putting up 17-20-37 in 46 games his final season). He’s also played in plenty of high pressure situations at the international level, winning medals at four different world tournaments; that includes a silver at the 2018 World Juniors, where he put up a 2-2-4 line with 12 penalty minutes in seven games.

How long that the 23-year-old Steen remains viable in the Bruins’ lineup is largely up to him. With Jake DeBrusk, Tomas Nosek and Karson Kuhlman all in COVID protocol, now is a golden opportunity to prove he belongs as a regular 3rd/4th liner. Effective penalty killing will help his cause; so will jostling with defenders in the offensive zone to create space for himself and open shooting lanes for his teammates.

The sixth round of the NHL Draft does not generally produce bountiful harvests of NHL stars. While the Bruins have drafted a few really solid players there over the years (Mike Krushelnyski in 1980, Bob Sweeney in 1982), and a few others who became decent NHLers but primary for other organizations (Andre Roy, Andrew Alberts, Nate Thompson), it’s far more often that they’ve chosen a Murray Wing, Peter Gaw, Randy Oswald or Denis Timofeyev — guys selected in the 6-spot who either never make it past Juniors, stay in Europe, or flame out after a quick cup of coffee or two in the lower minor leagues and are never heard from again.

Oskar Steen has a chance to change that narrative with this latest trial run he’s been given.

Phil Stacey, the Executive Sports Editor of The Salem News, covers the Boston Bruins for CNHI Sports Boston. Contact him at pstacey@salemnews.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN

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