Kuhlman Looking to Build His Offensive Game

BostonBruins.com – The Bruins took care of another restricted free agent on Tuesday, locking up winger Karson Kuhlman with a two-year contract worth an NHL cap hit of $725,000. It is a two-way deal for the upcoming 2020-21 campaign and a one-way deal for the 2021-22 season.

Kuhlman, who is the third RFA to be signed by Boston this offseason after Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril, certainly has some competition to secure a spot on the right side. In addition to David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, and Chris Wagner, the Bruins signed right-shot winger Craig Smith earlier this month, while fellow youngster and unsigned RFA Zach Senyshyn will also be angling for playing time.

“My expectations from myself are to go into camp kind of like I did last year. Go in there and play my game and be able to help the team right off the bat,” Kuhlman said when asked if the two-way portion of the contract could mean that he finds himself in a battle for a spot with the big club this season.

“Now, obviously it’s a great roster. We’re deep. My expectations of myself are to be there and to continue to get better and to help the team out as much as possible.”

The 25-year-old knows that he’ll have to find a way to separate himself if he wants to secure a place on the roster, and that means improving his finishing tough. Over the past two seasons, Kuhlman has shown an ability to provide a spark whenever he enters the lineup but has notched just four goals in 36 games.

“Hardest thing to do in hockey is put the puck in the net,” said Kuhlman, who has also suited up for 13 postseason games over the past two years. “And coming in, I’ve just been trying to watch the guys that do it consistently, what they do and how they go about their business and how pucks kind of find them in scoring areas and how they capitalize on it.

“Obviously, taking all that and kind of adding to my own game and putting a lot of time in. That’s kind of one of things I’ve been focusing on this summer is being better around the net and finishing opportunities when they’re there.”

Video: Kuhlman talks with media after contract extension[1]

Kuhlman, who is training back in his native Minnesota, said that focusing on getting himself to the net front more often could help give his offensive numbers a bump.

“I think that is kind of part of my game is getting around the net,” said Kuhlman. “Whether it’s tipping a bunch of pucks in practice or, this summer, we’ve been doing a lot of getting rebounds, gathering them and getting them upstairs.

“I think a few times in playoffs there, even, I had a rush or had a break and was unable to elevate it and that is the difference between scoring a goal and not. I think it’s a lot of little things that add up to a few more goals a year and that’s how I can contribute.”

The former Frozen Four MVP, who led the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the national title in 2018, is also looking to bounce back after a less than smooth 2019-20 campaign.

Kuhlman made the Bruins roster out of training camp after a strong showing towards the end of the 2018-19 season and through Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final but suffered a broken foot when he was hit with a puck on Oct. 19 in Toronto. He missed nearly three months before returning to Providence in late January and, eventually, made it back to Boston for the stretch run.

“That was a tough start, getting hurt right off the bat like that,” said Kuhlman. “Kind of the first time in my career that I’d missed substantial time…I’m looking at the past, got to be happy with getting this done and be thankful for my family and my agent to get this contract done.

“Obviously, the coaching staff and management of Boston to have confidence of me moving forward here. And lastly, with my teammates last year, they helped me so much during the injury and coming back from it. We expect a lot out of each other and we’re going to keep doing that moving forward.”

Nordstrom Departs 

Joakim Nordstrom signed with the Calgary Flames on Monday afternoon, inking a one-year, $700,000 contract, after two seasons as a staple of the Bruins’ fourth line. The 28-year-old brought energy, grit, and a fearless approach to penalty killing, putting his body on the line on countless occasions, including late in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final when a shot block led to a foot fracture.

Nordstrom, playing mostly with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, tallied 11 goals and 19 points in 118 games with the Black & Gold. He added three goals and seven assists in 36 playoff contests.

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