Last season when Senators prospect Jakob Silfverberg made his debut with Ottawa, it came as a bit of a surprise. After all, he had spent most of his time in the Swedish Elite League and when he came here last season, he made his debut in the playoffs.
In the playoffs, he played on the fourth line, but his time spent in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators this season has been on the team’s top line leading the way in points. While he’s earned comparisons to Daniel Alfredsson, learning the North American game and playing on a smaller ice surface is the biggest adjustment he has to make.
“It’s a big difference to play on a North American-sized ice rink,” Silfverberg says. “I didn’t expect the difference to be as big as this. I thought I’d be able to just jump in the game and be ready to go. I’d been struggling a lot early in the season turning pucks over in the wrong places and if you do that on the North American ice you’re most likely going to get caught going in the wrong end.”
Silfverberg gives a lot of credit to his breakout this season to Binghamton coach Luke Richardson, a guy who’s earned his own compliments from the team.
“It has to do with a lot of confidence and a lot to do with the coach telling me to play how I want to play. I feel like I get a lot of confidence from the coach and I feel like I’m playing good out there now.”
Would Ottawa coach Paul MacLean approve of “playing how he wants to?” Silfverberg isn’t quite so sure of that.
“Ha! I don’t know about that,” he says with a laugh. “You still have to know when to chip the puck in or to make a play. You still have to keep the creativity you have in you. That’s what makes a team good. Every player’s got their own creativity and everyone is good at different things.”
Silfverberg’s play is earning him praise from opponents as well. Phoenix Coyotes young star defenseman and current Portland Pirates leader Oliver Ekman-Larsson speaks well of his fellow countryman.
“You always have to check your shoulder to know he’s out there,” Ekman-Larsson says. “He’s a really good player. Good shot, good skater, good hockey sense.”
Judging by what Silfverberg was able to do in their 6-1 win over Portland on Friday night, he’s got the good stuff down pat.