Nothing is screaming “Blockbuster” yet, but Thursday afternoon was busy for the Bruins.
First, general manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins traded Frank Vatrano to the Panthers for a 2018 third-round pick. Sweeney managed to cancel out the third-round pick he gave up for Nick Holden with an undrafted free agent in Vatrano.
It seems like one of those rare, mutually feel-good moves. Vatrano wasn’t getting much of a shot on a talented and deep roster, and now the 23-year-old East Longmeadow native might get a more useful role in Florida. The former UMass-Amherst standout had 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points in 44 games 2016-17, but only played 25 games in 2017-18 and has been out of the lineup since Feb. 6.
About an hour later, the Bruins issued an update on rookie forward Anders Bjork, who had been out of the lineup since a collision with Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin Jan. 30. The ex-Notre Dame star is expected to recover in six months after undergoing a successful surgery on his left shoulder on Feb. 20.
While Bjork wasn’t expected to play any sort of significant role for the rest of the Bruins’ regular season or playoffs, the roadblocks he’s faced during his first season (a concussion right when he was heating up, now this) are downright unfortunate in a crucial developmental time. While he’s at an obvious disadvantage headed into next season’s training camp, he’ll provide another layer of agreeableness to one of the most likable Bruins teams in recent memory if he can come back strong despite it all. The rookie winger tallied 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 30 games.
Placing Bjork on long term injury reserve gives the Bruins the option to exceed the salary cap, which might make things interesting with Monday’s trade deadline looming.