Oskar Steen knows his performance in the 2021 regular season was not an aberration.
He’s just working to ensure he can prove that.
It’s not often sixth-round picks make it to the NHL, but Steen, taken in the penultimate round of the 2016 draft, managed to do just that last season. With the Bruins fighting through injuries back in March, Steen got the call, playing two games in March and one in May.
That May game was the one that stands out. You’ll remember it was the final game of the regular season for the Bruins as they faced the Washington Capitals. Of course, that was who Boston wound up playing, and beating, in the first round of the postseason, so in that meaningless game the Bruins played almost exclusively youngsters, while Washington played just regulars.
That allowed for Steen to play a ton of minutes against a real good team, and he ate up the opportunity.
“At first, it was big for me to play a game up there. A lot of good players to play against, so it was a good experience, especially that last game. I played a lot of minutes. … I think I played good that game.”
New Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel agrees.
“He’s a competitive, in-your-face, abrasive — I think his identity is exactly what you saw in that Washington game,” Mougenel said. “I think he has the ability to get under opponents’ skin, I think he has the ability to get underneath and inside, I think that’s one of his biggest attributes.”
The 23-year-old very much is in the mix for a roster spot in training camp or, at the very least, a chance to be one of the first call-ups. He’ll have to really show out in camp if he wants to make the final roster.
Clearly seeking more depth up front, the Bruins added a ton of depth up front by signing Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Erik Haula, all of whom have been everyday NHL players.
“There’s always good players on every team,” Steen said. “I’ve just got to battle and try to get a spot up there. It will be hard, but I will try to do my best and see how it goes.”
“He’s well on his way,” noted Mougenel. “I think he’s ready, he’s hungry, he’s got a taste of the NHL and he wants to stay there. It’s up to him now, that’s part of the deal. These guys have put the work in, but now it’s up to them.”
Steen has yet to score a point in an NHL game, but in that Washington game specifically, he showed what he can be. Although just 5-foot-9, 194 pounds, Steen loves taking the body, posting six hits in that game. He likes agitating his opponent, using his speed to win battles and is willing to eat pucks.
That’s the type of player the Bruins love to have, especially in their bottom six. His skill set suggests he has potential staying power in the NHL, but he needs more than just sounds good on paper to reach that next step.
“I think I can play both center and wing,” Steen said. “I can play all four lines, I guess, play defense, offense, everywhere.”