As Oliver Bjorkstrand helps out Denmark with qualifying for the Olympics, the thought crossed my mind, just how much better can someone like Bjorkstrand get? In his most recent Olympic qualifying game against South Korea, he scored three goals in a very short period of time.
Is the sky really the limit for Bjorkstrand?
It depends on what you want to call the sky and how you want to define it. For someone like Bjorkstrand, the fact that the past two seasons have been pandemic ravaged is very tough to decipher where he is in his developmental path. He is hovering closer and closer to a point-per-game status. Whether that translates over an entire season remains to be seen.
Obviously, bad teams and injuries are throwing wrenches into this as well but for someone like Bjorkstrand, there are obvious areas that should be able to take him to the next level.
In particular, the Blue Jackets could see a big upswing in production if they keep leaning on Bjorkstrand for ice time. His possession numbers have yet to be anything remarkable but frankly, the entire team has seen an entire dip there. But he saw a massive upswing the past two seasons up to 17 minutes a night after playing anywhere on average 12-14 minutes. He has seen plenty more time on the power play but even then he should be a first option on the top unit with Patrik Laine.
Adding to that, Bjorsktrand saw a fairly even split on offensive zone starts compared to other counterparts. While it makes sense to give him some responsibility, one area where the Blue Jackets have fallen short lately is setting their offensive dynamos up for success. Bjorsktrand should be seeing more of a 2/3 split in the offensive zone and should be getting plenty of opportunities to cause havoc there. They have a weapon in Bjorkstrand, it is time to use him effectively.
Oddly, this past season, Bjorsktrand saw a fairly large dip in his shots per 60. That could mean that he is getting more of his shots blocked but it could also mean that Bjorsktrand is looking to be more of a playmaker. Considering that Bjorkstrand hovers at a double-digit shooting percentage when he is in the right spot he needs to be putting it on net. That isn't to discount his teammates but no one outside of Patrik Laine has a shot like Bjorkstrand. He needs to be pushing the play and controlling the ice with his shot.
A lot of this is easier said than done. Bjorkstand needs to be put in favorable areas to allow him to get to another level but considering the coaching change and the contract that he just signed, it shouldn't be a surprise if they lean on him like they never have before.
Can he get to another level? Absolutely. He will just need a little help to get there. The skill is already there in spades.
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