Yet another in the ‘dime-a-dozen’ category on the Sabres roster
Today in our 2022 Buffalo Sabres player report cards series is forward Anders Bjork.
Total Season Stats: 58 GP | 5 G | 3 A | 8 PTS
Contract Status: Signed through to 2022-23 at $1.6 million, RFA next summer
After picking up four points in his first six games with the Sabres following his trade from the Boston Bruins late last season, there was hope that Buffalo finally had a big, bruising power forward who was willing to put his body on the line against the boards. And while it seems difficult to fall from those not so lofty expectations, somehow Bjork has managed to do exactly that.
From getting nearly twenty minutes a game on the ice to close out last season, he has been a bit-part player on the Sabres this season relegated to the fourth line with about eleven-odd minutes per night while veterans like Kyle Okposo have outperformed him in pretty much every metric across the board.
You could probably get away with being a specialist defensive forward on the bottom six if you could, you know, defend but that is something we can hardly say Bjork does well either. If Jeff Skinner is throwing more hits than you are, then you are clearly overmatched. He did block a lot of shots just like Zemgus Girgensons did as the Sabres fourth line was often the weak link that got peppered every night.
We often use Cody Eakin as the poster boy of negative possession hockey, but when Eakin has better Relative Corsi For numbers (or Relative Fenwick For, take your pick) than you, then you just might be plying your trade at the wrong level. In fact, Bjork had the worst of both stats of any Sabres player that dressed for more than one game this season. That’s.. not good.
Youngsters J.J. Peterka and Jack Quinn are coming up next season, and the Sabres really have no use for Bjork. His cap hit is tolerably low, and if the Sabres can package that up and send him on his way as a rental defensive forward, that will be the way to go. General Manager Kevyn Adams can certainly find a forward with a similar skillset and likely better production for a greater cap hit (weaponize that cap space, amirite?) to make the salary floor next season.
For a player who during his Notre Dame days was in the Hobey Baker conversation, Bjork has underwhelmed badly. When he came to the Sabres in April 2021 he had talked about the new opportunity he was getting that would give him a fresh start, and Bjork acknowledged that his time in the NHL hadn’t gone quite according to plan. Unfortunately for him, five seasons in he still hasn’t shown that he can be a bottom six forward with any consistency or a unique selling point.