Bruins Waiving Karson Kuhlman Hints At How Team Views Forward Group

Kuhlman going on waivers shows a fair amount of trust in Oskar Steen


Jan 17, 2022

Karson Kuhlman is a reliable, NHL-caliber player.

That he is the one on waivers suggests the Bruins have really liked what they’ve seen from Oskar Steen and Anton Blidh.

Kuhlman, a speedy winger with a knack for hunting pucks, was put on waivers Sunday. We’ll know if he cleared at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, or if another NHL team snatched him up. If he clears, Kuhlman likely will be sent to the AHL or placed on the NHL taxi squad.

Steen, who has carved out a role for himself as the third line right wing, has made it borderline impossible to take out of the lineup. But he’s a waivers-exempt player, and if the Bruins didn’t have the utmost confidence in him, they wouldn’t have risked Kuhlman to waivers. The roster move is more an endorsement of Steen than a criticism of Kuhlman.

Same goes for Blidh, who has been in the organization for years and has had a breakout campaign in which he’s become a key part of the fourth line. While Blidh might ultimately take on the role of a spare forward — the Kuhlman-vacated role if you will — there’s enough trust that the Bruins clearly see him as an asset worth holding onto.

Basically, Sunday’s move hinted at how the Bruins view their forward group. Things obviously can change, given rumored interest in wingers like Lawson Crouse, as well as the trade request Jake DeBrusk made.

But if a fully healthy Bruins team is carrying 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on the roster, then we now can see who Boston envisions that group being at present.

The locks are obvious. If the Bruins roll with a third line of Nick Foligno, Charlie Coyle and Steen, then that leaves DeBrusk, Blidh, Curtis Lazar, Tomas Nosek and Trent Frederic to fight for the last three lineup spots. The two who don’t have a chair when the music stops become forward Nos. 13 and 14.

The Bruins then would have to decide between John Moore and Urho Vaakanainen as the extra defenseman. Either one would have the chance to push Connor Clifton, and to a lesser degree Derek Forbort, out of the lineup.

Overall, the Bruins are showing a healthy degree of trust in their current forward group by waiving Kuhlman. Bruce Cassidy and Don Sweeney always preach about the importance of young players grabbing hold of opportunities and potentially pushing more established players out of the lineup. That’s exactly what’s happened with Steen, which is why Kuhlman is on waivers.

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images
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