Oliver Bjorkstrand's tenure in New Jersey was plenty eventful ("good riddance") before his trade to the Los Angeles Kings earlier last week.
For the past several weeks, there have been rumblings out of New Jersey on the possibility of the team quietly shopping winger Oliver Bjorkstrand.
It came to fruition on March 22nd, when the New Jersey Devils traded Bjorkstrand to the Los Angeles Kings for pending unrestricted free agent left winger Taylor Hall. LA also retained half of Taylor Hall’s already half retained salary, which means that the cap hit to the New Jersey Devils is only $1.375M.
So, what happened with Bjorkstrand and the Devils organization?
Coming into the inaugural BEARD Hockey season with the New Jersey Devils, Bjorkstrand was gifted a spot on the top line with winger Brad Marchand and center Jonathan Toews. It was expected that the skilled winger would slot in easily and have success surrounded by skilled veterans.
It was not to be, with Bjorkstrand largely struggling production-wise and with giveaways. This quickly landed Bjorkstrand in head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse and saw him bounced around the lineup.
During a practice, things got heated when Bjorkstrand stopped backchecking on a scrimmage and Tortorella could be heard screaming at him to hustle. After continuing to ignore his coach, Tortorella threw a water bottle at the winger and told him to hit the showers. Bjorkstrand smashed his stick on the railing when he headed to the dressing room.
After the trade, reporters asked Tortorella about the rumors of a locker-room feud between the two:
“Have Oliver and I had conflict? Goddamn right we’ve had conflict. If someone doesn’t want to be here, that’s a hard thing for me to stomach, quite honestly. Today’s athletes are soft. You don’t get to be a passenger in my dressing room. You put the team first, you make sacrifices, you OWN your mistakes.”
“To be an NHL player, you need to play a complete game, you can’t just be thinking of offense all the time. And you can’t be making high risk plays all the time. This is a team game. You win and lose as a team. If you are going to continue to put yourself first, you’re not going to be here very long.
"Just ask Nail Yakupov how his NHL career worked out.”
When asked about any parting words for his former player, coach Tortorella said, “Yeah good luck and good riddance!”
When Bjorkstrand was asked to comment on his relationship with his former coach he responded:
“I’m looking forward to joining my new team and coach John Hynes. I know Troy (Brouwer) and Jay (Beagle) from my time in Jersey. Looking to start a new chapter.”
With just under half a season left to play, we’ll see how Bjorkstrand fits into the Los Angeles lineup. Currently he is slotted in on the 2nd line with Brendan Gallagher and Nicklas Backstrom.