This season was supposed to be all about earning a permanent home in Boston and establishing himself as an NHL regular for Vladimir Sobotka.
Well, one out of two isn’t bad.
After starting the season in Providence (AHL) and putting up 10 points (four goals) in six games, the 22-year-old Sobotka was summoned to Boston Oct. 18 and stayed for the rest of the season. However, too often it looked like he left his game in Rhode Island. A diminutive forward whose game is supposed to be a combination of physicality and playmaking, Sobotka struggled to just put up 10 points in 61 games.
In the first round of the playoffs, he became a more consistent presence than the regular season, but a shoulder injury slowed him down and relegated him back to spectator status. As far as development years go, Sobotka gained a lot of experience this season. It doesn’t appear, however, that he improved any.
Stats: 61 GP, 4-6-10, 30 PIM, minus-7
Season highlight: A lot of Bruins players were talking about getting traffic in front of Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller after losing Game 1 of the first-round series. However, Sobotka actually turned those words to action. Although he was whistled for goaltender interference, Sobotka set the tone by charging into Miller early in the first period of Game 2. The Bruins followed Sobotka’s lead en route to a 5-3 win in the game and a 4-2 win in the series.
Season low-light: While not making the NHL roster out of training camp was a bummer for Sobotka, the playoff series with Philadelphia made him look like a bum. He failed to register a point against the Flyers. The Bruins desperately needed help replacing David Krejci and Sobotka was nowhere to be found.
Final grade: C-minus
An obvious inability to play the wing as well as he could play center cost the Bruins for a while when Sobotka was forced to log more minutes due to injuries. And his first-round playoff performance just made his regular-season inconsistencies all the more baffling.
The crystal ball says … a restricted free agent, Sobotka will be back next year battling for a job on Boston’s fourth line.