By Kirk Luedeke
A source close to the situation told New England Hockey Journal Monday that Swedish center Carl Soderberg has agreed to terms on a reported three-year contract with the Boston Bruins.
Although the deal has not been made official because the team is still reportedly working to secure the 27-year-old’s release from the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, getting Soderberg signed is the first major step in getting him to North America. The former second-round pick in 2004 by the St. Louis Blues (49th overall) was acquired by Boston for goaltender Hannu Toivonen in 2007, but up until now, had rebuffed the team’s efforts to sign him.
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, the centerman can play wing and is a good skater with a wicked shot and release. The native of Malmo takes the puck hard to the net and enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in his second year with Linkoping. Soderberg led the Swedish Elite League with 31 goals, finishing second in points with 60 (in 54 games). His team upset HV-71 in the first round before falling to Skelleftea.
Eligible to join the Bruins for the remainder of the NHL regular season and playoffs, in accordance with International Ice Hockey Federation rules, the Swedish Federation has seven days to file a refusal to allow Soderberg to depart the country. The Bruins have the option of buying out Soderberg’s existing contract with Linkoping, which would better position them to secure his release.
Linkoping GM Johan Hemlin told Corren.se recently that the team was planning for life after Soderberg, but the sticking point could be with Sweden hosting the 2013 World Championship. The Swedish national team reportedly wants the SEL’s top goal scorer to stay home to compete in the May tournament, and there has been chatter that the team would try to convince him to stay.
With a deal reportedly in place with Boston, things appear to be proceeding for the talented forward to be a Bruin for the final 10 games or so of the regular season. However, GM Peter Chiarelli cautioned in recent weeks that even if Soderberg plays, he may require an adjustment period to the NHL’s faster pace and smaller ice surface.