Blackhawks 6-9 Swedish prospect Svedberg feels big in small rinks
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media July 10, 2013 8:57PM
Viktor Svedberg was a staple on the penalty kill as he climbed through the professional ranks in Sweden. | Blackhawks
At Johnny’s IceHouse West, 2550 W. Madison St.
• 10-11 a.m.: Practice, Team B
• 11:30 a.m.: Scrimmage, Team A vs. Team B
• 10 a.m.: Scrimmage,
Team A vs. Team B
Updated: July 10, 2013 11:42PM
Typically, the transition from European to North American hockey can be difficult for players in their first season. But Swedish defenseman and Blackhawks prospect Viktor Svedberg believes he’s better suited for the smaller rinks in the United States and Canada.
At 6-9, Svedberg is as tall as Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in NHL history. Svedberg’s size and long stick will be assets when he makes his professional debut for the Rockford IceHogs this fall.
Svedberg was one of the few players at the Blackhawks’ prospect camp Wednesday at Johnny’s IceHouse West who is guaranteed to play in Rockford this season. He was unable to practice because of soreness in the muscles near his spine, but he expects to be on the ice Thursday.
“I’m sure I’m going to have to adjust to some things,” said Svedberg, who already has signed an American Hockey League contract. “For big guys, it’s going to be different in the ‘D’ zone. You don’t have to move that much, maybe. I think it’s going to be good for my game. I think I’m going to take advantage of the small rinks.”
As he climbed through the professional ranks in Sweden, Svedberg saw his ice time on the power play dwindle. But he always has been a staple on the penalty kill. Talking about it makes him chuckle because he knows coaches immediately pencil him in as a penalty-killer when they see how big he is.
While his size is an asset against bigger forwards near the goal, his length is just as important. Svedberg can use his stick to clog lanes, making it difficult for opponents to connect on passes and put shots on goal.
“I like to think [that I’m an asset on the penalty kill],” Svedberg said. “You’ve got less space [in the North American game] for the forwards to get to the net, and it’s easier to push them out.”
After camp, Svedberg will return to Sweden, where he will continue to train. He hopes to put on a few more pounds before he returns to the United States in late August or early September.
Svedberg seems to have gained some confidence during prospect camp.
“Last practice we had, it was a little bit more game-like drills, and I felt good,” Svedberg said. “Things are going to work out.”