Coming to America

Eric Daoust

2013-04-11

 

Soderberg

 

After what has seemed like decades of speculation, prospect Carl Soderberg has finally decided to come to the NHL. The Boston Bruins inked the 27-year-old forward to a three-year contract with an unofficial cap hit of $866,667. The first year of the deal will be lost when he joins the Bruins within the next few days but having such a talented forward locked up for multiple years at such a low cost is a big deal for both the Bruins and his fantasy hockey potential.

 

The Bruins will have a tough cap situation this summer when three of their large contract extensions for forwards Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand take effect. The team will have $58 million committed to 17 players. They will put Marc Savard's $4 million on long-term injured reserve but that still puts them in a tough spot under the $64.3 million salary cap ceiling. The main players to be re-signed are forwards Nathan Horton (UFA), Jaromir Jagr (UFA) and Jordan Caron (RFA), defenseman Andrew Ference (UFA) and goaltenders Tuukka Rask (RFA) and Anton Khudobin (UFA).

 

The team could make use of amnesty buyouts but nobody on the roster jumps out as an albatross salary. Rather, the team could seek options on the trade market to reduce the salary cap and let most of the unrestricted free agents walk. This is where Soderberg, along with fellow prospects such as Ryan Spooner ($870,000) and Jared Knight ($870,000), come into play. These players are good enough to contribute in the NHL but more importantly carry a small cap hit to help the team keep its core intact.

 

Soderberg brings a lot of versatility to the table and can play anywhere up front. This will help him integrate into the lineup immediately and produce. His short-term upside is a mystery but depending on his role could be a decent contributor in a variety of scoring formats. Should both Jagr and Horton leave the team this summer, he would have a chance to move up the depth chart as a winger and produce good offensive numbers next year.

 

The key is that Soderberg is an older and much more polished prospect who has had success overseas for years. Treat him like Roman Cervenka a year ago. He probably does not have the elite-level upside of the top prospects of the world but given his experience will be able to produce immediately. There is much less risk of a slow development curve like we see with many younger prospects. While many love to gamble for a home run pick, there is certainly value in safer prospects when we can be assured of quality production. Soderberg has a good chance of doing just that.

 

*

 

 

*

 

Last week's look at mostly off-the-radar and cheap prospects received some good reviews so here are five more who recently signed entry-level contracts: