Countdown to Bruins training camp: Joakim Nordstrom

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It’s still a little unclear exactly what role Joakim Nordstrom is going to play with the Bruins after signing a free agent contract with the B’s on July 1, but the 26-year-old Swedish winger will play somewhere in the bottom-6 for the Black and Gold this upcoming season. He’s not a high profile offensive player or somebody that’s going to blow anybody away with his hockey skills, but Nordstrom will bring plenty to the table in terms of intangibles and things that are needed to win hockey games. The best case scenario is that Nordstrom turns into another Riley Nash, a largely unheralded free agent signing that turned into a pretty good performer for the Black and Gold.

What Happened Last Year: The 26-year-old Nordstrom had just two goals and seven points in 75 games for the Hurricanes last season, but was a staple as a bottom-six forward that killed penalties and played a checking role. Nordstrom was a minus player on a non-playoff team and really had minimal offensive production, so he wasn’t exactly headed into free agency on a high note. But as mentioned above, nobody was signing the Swedish forward to a contract thinking he’s going to turn into a top-6 sniper in Boston or anywhere else. Instead the Bruins needed some penalty killing help with guys like Riley Nash and Tim Schaller moving on, and Nordstrom certainly did that kind of thing for the Canes last season.

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Questions To Be Answered This Season: The one question about Nordstrom is just how good he can be over the next couple of seasons for the Bruins. If Nordstrom can get back to the 10 goals and 24 points that he posted for the Hurricanes a couple of years ago, then the Bruins will be getting a real steal for the money they’re paying him. But another season like last year, where he posts two goals in 70-plus games, will be a really average all-around season that could arguably be topped by players that the B’s already have in their minor league system. So the real question is whether Nordstrom can get back to his level from a couple of seasons ago while arguably surrounded by better talent in Boston than he had anytime recently in Carolina. There’s also simply the question of where Nordstrom is going to play given he’s versatile between positions and there doesn’t seem to be a pre-ordained spots for him up front.  

In Their Words: “I think my biggest asset as a player is my skating. I know the Bruins want to play fast, so that is, obviously, something I can help with. Then, just on special teams, the last couple years, I played a lot of PK, so that’s obviously something that I wanted to bring to the table, as well. I don’t want to limit myself to just be a special-teams guy, so hopefully I can take my game to the next level here with the Bruins.” –Joakim Nordstrom, on what kind of role he’s going to play for the Bruins now that he’s signed in Boston.

Overall Outlook: Nordstrom actually sounds a little bit like a former Swedish Bruins forward in P.J. Axelsson with skating and penalty killing as staples of his game, and he’d really settled into a supporting role with Carolina over the last few seasons. It remains to be seen just how competitive it’s going to be between veterans and young players for some of the bottom-6 roles with the Black and Gold this upcoming season, but Nordstrom is going to bring versatility, smarts and a strong skating game to the table in a combination that’s often difficult to beat. It should also be good for a guy like Nordstrom where the Bruins, an already strong offensive force, aren’t going to be looking for big numbers out of the veteran Swede.

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