As briefly eluded to at the conclusion of the Penguins’ 2018-19 playoff run, and after three seasons playing collegiate hockey at Providence College, 2016 second round pick Kasper Bjorkqvist has agreed to a two-year, entry-level deal with the Penguins on Wednesday.
During his time at Providence, Bjorkqvist improved offensively every year and helped the Friars reach the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons he was a member of the team, including a trip to the Frozen Four in 2019. This season, he tallied career highs in goals (17), assists (13), and total points (30) in 42 games played. He went on to add an additional goal and assist in the NCAA Tournament.
TIE. GAME.— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 30, 2019
Jack Dugan wraps around the net on the power play and Kasper Bjorkqvist hammers it home on the doorstep for the @FriarsHockey equalizer.
2nd Period | PC 3 | MSU 3#NCAAHockey pic.twitter.com/fLVsmXk8DD
Assistant general manager Bill Guerin heaped praise on the young winger after the signing was announced. Via Penguins:
“Kasper was able to produce in big games throughout his college career, and he was fortunate to play in a lot of them,” assistant general manager Bill Guerin said of Bjorkqvist, who counted six game-winning goals among his 33 tallies the last two seasons. “Playing for an outstanding program in Providence allowed him to go far in the NCAA Tournament each season, so he received a lot of great experience.”
Before joining the NCAA ranks, Bjorkqvist played junior hockey in his native Finland as a member of the Espoo Blues of the Jr. A SM-Liiga. In 2016, he won the Teemu Selanne Award as the best player in Jr. A SM-Liiga and earned First Team honors by scoring 66 points in just 45 games.
On the international stage for Finland, Bjorkqvist won silver at the 2015 U-18 World Championships then followed it up the next year by winning gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship on home soil.
Here is a look at his career statistics thus far via Elite Prospects:
Given that it was Bill Guerin commenting on the deal, it’s easy to parse out that Bjorkqvist will spend next season in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to further develop his game and prepare him for the NHL down the road.
Unfortunately, Bjorkqvist will not be in attendance for this summer’s Penguins Prospect Camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.