Seven and a half years is a long time in the hockey world. The average career length in the National Hockey League is four and a half years. The clock moves quickly for a hockey player, and Boston Bruins forward Oskar Steen has seen many years go by with very limited opportunities to play and show his worth. The climb has been uphill for the 2016 sixth-round draft pick, and 26 games are all that is on Steen’s resume. Some of that lack of action is due to the Bruins having a top roster of veteran forwards who bucked the trend and played for several years beyond the career expectancy. Some of it is the challenge of being drafted in the next-to-last round in the draft and trying to win a job on a loaded hockey club.
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At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Steen is seen as a bit of a grinder who can forecheck aggressively and whose ceiling is probably a borderline fourth-line winger in the NHL. Never known as a goal scorer, Steen’s best season was 2018-19 with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League, where the Karlstad native scored 17 goals with 20 assists in 46 regular season games and collected seven points in 14 playoff games. The previous two seasons saw Steen total just nine points in 92 games. The development on the offensive end has taken some time, and Steen deserves credit for still having a chance at a roster spot in 2023 when others drafted ahead of him have not survived.
This season seems to be a make-or-break situation for Steen as he competes for a roster spot with several other veteran players and some prospects younger than him. The scrappy forward gave a good first impression this preseason with the lone goal in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo. The goal was just the type of play Steen will have to make to stick on the team, diving forward on a rebound of a point shot and burying his chance. It was the kind of “greasy” goal Steen will need to pot to remain with the Bruins. Steen led the team with six shots in 16:24 of ice time and added two hits. Johnny Beecher seems to be solidifying a fourth-line center role, and Steen is in the running to be on his right wing.
At the beginning of camp, Steen was on a line with Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand. In Steen’s mind, it didn’t matter who he would be playing with as long as he finally earned a lengthy stay in Boston. Steen said, “I’m working hard out there and trying to do my best every minute…and hopefully get into the lineup this year…two great players. It’s easier to play with good players. So, it just makes me better too.”
For Oskar Steen, the time is now to prove whether he can be a regular NHL player. This is the final year of his three-year contract with Boston. If it doesn’t happen now for him, it might never will.