Bruins’ Karson Kuhlman Ready To Become Second-Line Mainstay This Season

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October 1, 2019

BOSTON — Is Karson Kuhlman going to be the one that finally puts an end to the black hole on the second line?

We’re about to find out. Well … probably.

As has been the case pretty much since Jarome Iginla departed, David Krejci has been without a stable right wing. His situation improved once Jake DeBrusk came around and proved he was a true top-six forward, but Krejci’s trio never really has been a complete unit for some time now. Last season, a handful of players cycled through that role, but it was the surprise call-up of Kuhlman that worked out arguably the best. A solid skater who tracks pucks well and has a nice shot when he uses it, he ended up getting the call in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Final over David Backes.

The second-line right wing job was his to lose in training camp this September, and it seems he won it without issue. Though head coach Bruce Cassidy won’t say for sure that’s where Kuhlman will be, that’s where he’s been in practices pretty much all training camp.

Nothing would help the Bruins more than Kuhlman being the answer on the second line, and he seems hellbent on making sure that ends up being the case.

“I think I’ve just got to play hard,” Kuhlman said during Tuesday’s media day. “Obviously, (Krejci and DeBrusk) are some very skilled players and they’re going to put up a lot of points, so I think as long as I win my battles and kind of distribute the puck and be available for those guys it’s going to help. … I think last year’s playoff run really helped with (confidence), and I definitely feel more comfortable and confident coming into this year.”

Krejci has good shooting ability, but he’s at his best when he has adept wingers that can make things happen either in front of the net or with their shot. DeBrusk, though he does damage in the slot, also plays well out on the wing. For the third man, the objective then more or less becomes fitting in in a way that allows the two others to best leverage their strengths.

As such, Kuhlman’s role has been clearly outlined.

“I think my game is pretty much drawn up,” Kuhlman said. “I think I’m going to be a good 200-foot player, get up and down the ice and obviously get to the net and use my feet.”

Kuhlman has just 19 NHL games to his name, so seeing how he looks over an entire season will be fascinating. But with opening night just two days away, he received a ringing endorsement from Charlie McAvoy for his training camp performance.

“(Kuhlman’s) been good, Kuhly’s got a good step out there,” McAvoy said. “He looks really good, he’s a player who plays hard, he can possess the puck down low, he came in and we all saw what he did, he had some goals in the final and throughout the playoffs he played really well. I’m excited to see what he brings to the lineup.”

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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