Winnipeg is often referred to as Finnipeg with the influx of Finnish draft picks made by the Jets over the years but the team has also selected a fair number of Swedish prospects including at least one draft selection from Sweden in each of the last five NHL drafts.
In my conversation with Jets 2018 2nd rounder David Gustafsson we spoke about how much easier it is for a player when they have someone familiar to them when coming to a new organization. For Gustafsson that was towering 6’4 defenceman Jacob Cederholm who was selected by Winnipeg in the 4th round back in 2016. The two had played together for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League.
“It meant a lot to me to have Jacob there when I got drafted. Your first development camp, your first time in Winnipeg, you are kinda nervous, your English is not that good your first time. It was nice to have him show me around and like help me out. It’s always important to have somebody you can ask about that kind of thing. The first time there are a lot of things you don’t understand. I had Jacob that I asked probably pretty much everything and I hope I can be that guy for other Swedes.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in no development camp this year in Winnipeg, Gustafsson won’t have that opportunity with the two newest Swedish prospects in the Jets system being Daniel Torgersson (2nd round) and Anton Johannesson (5th round) whom Winnipeg selected at the 2020 virtual draft. I asked Gustafsson how familiar he was with these two Swedish prospects.
“Johannesson I know pretty good. He played in HV71 as I did so we’ve been in the same organization. I think that was a good pick. He’s a good player. He’s a skilled defenceman and a really good skater. I like to see him on the ice, he’s fun to watch.”
He wasn’t as familiar with Torgersson but here was his scouting report on the winger from Hönö, Sweden
“I haven’t played against Torgersson so I don’t know him very well. He’s a big player who uses his size well and likes to go to the net.”
And with the World Junior tournament coming up I had to ask Gustafsson, who won bronze last year with Sweden, about his expectations for this team
“I feel like a lot of people are sleeping on Sweden. They have a really good team. A lot of people are focused on Canada. But I think people shouldn’t sleep on Sweden cause they have a good chance this year.”
Plenty more still to come from my chat with David Gustafsson.