'It really is a dream to be here'
Development camp Silfverberg's first step toward future with Senators
|Jakob Silfverberg listed the Ottawa Senators as his favourite NHL team in a pre-draft profile. Now he's started on the road to building a future for himself in Ottawa at this week's development camp.
But the words sounded just as sweet to the 18-year-old forward as he sat thousands of kilometres away at home in Sweden. The National Hockey League wasn't just a dream anymore.
"I was very happy and very excited," Silfverberg said about being selected by the Ottawa Senators in the second round (39th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "It's a big boost for my motivation. It's helped me keep pushing myself even harder. I was expecting to go in the third round or something like that ... It was kind of a surprise but I'm really happy with it."
Then again, the 6-foot-1, 187-pound native of Gavle, Sweden, did list the Senators as his favourite NHL team on a pre-draft profile compiled by the league. Ask him about his favourite NHL players and the first name he mentions is more than familiar to fans in the nation's capital: Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson (San Jose Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo is the other).
While Silfverberg had little in the way of an inkling that the Senators had an interest in him — "Just in Toronto at the (NHL scouting) combine. That's the only time I spoke to them," he said — Ottawa's scouting staff had him on its radar for some time.
"He just looks like a hockey player," said Pierre Dorion, the Senators' chief amateur scout. "When he plays the game, you're always impressed because he's the type of player that dances with the puck."
Indeed, Silfverberg is a player the Senators are counting on to give them an offensive jolt in the future.
"He's a skilled player, an offensive player who's going to score," said Vaclav Burda, Ottawa's head European scout. "He's going to make our whole offence better and help us in (two) or three years."
For his part, Silfverberg describes himself as "pretty much an all-around player. I think I'm good in both the offensive zone and defensively. I like to play on the power play. I think I shoot well."
But, he adds, "I need to gain more power and more muscle (to be an NHL player). Just shape up a little bit and get more tough."
"What would be best is for him to stay in Europe for one more year and play with men," said Burda. "He's supposed to be a regular on his Elite League team. Then I think we should bring him over and try to give him the best here and see how he's going to adjust over here.
"He needs some time to learn and adjust to physical hockey over here but I don't see that as an issue for him."
In the meantime, Silfverberg is savouring his introduction to North American hockey at this week's Senators development camp. He calls the two-plus hour on-ice sessions at the Bell Sensplex "heaven," adding "it's fun to be on the ice and practise hard."
"It really is a dream to be here," said Silfverberg. "I'm really happy to be in Ottawa now and hopefully, I'll be here (playing regularly) in a few years as well."