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Exclusive interview with Canadiens prospect Lukas Vejdemo

In our trip through Europe we are back in Sweden, but this time in Stockholm, catching up with Lukas Vejdemo. Unfortunately Lukas and I couldn't meet up in Stockholm when I was there, as he was at the Lake Placid training camp, which led to a chat over the phone.

Lukas Vejdemo

It’s 8.45 am when Lukas Vejdemo fielded a call from Eyes on the Prize.

How are you?

I am good thanks, I arrived from the U.S. yesterday and I am feeling alright now.

How was Lake Placid? Did you enjoy the time with the team? What are your goals for the World Junior Championship?

It was a fantastic experience; I felt myself grow as a person on and off the ice.

I didn’t get to play as much as I had hoped (Vejdemo was rested for the 10-4 loss to the USA) but it was a dream come true, as it was my first game with any national team. There were lots of emotions when the national anthem started and I had the Swedish jersey on, I actually had goose bumps.

As for the national team the goal is gold, we are good enough to be up there, and I think its only fair to have such a goal, as we are Sweden after all. Look at the previous squads they are always up there, so should we.

Photo Credit: Lukas Vejdemo

The U-20 tournament has kept you away from preseason with Djurgården; will that benefit you for the upcoming season, with respect to earning a spot on the team and playing in SHL?

It will benefit me in the long run. I started early with training this summer, and the prolonged heavy training with the National team was great. Playing in games was even better, it gave me a confidence boost, along with new friends, and personal development it can only have benefited me in the long run.

I did miss some time with Djurgården, but the pros surely outweigh the cons.

This was your second trip across the Atlantic this summer, how was the development camp in Montreal?

It was tremendous, amazing fun, and I was nervous, but you should be nervous in situations like that.

It was a good experience to get to see others and see what they can do. It was mostly physical tests, meeting new friends, meeting coaches etc.

On the last day I sat with the coaches and they stressed that I should just focus on my development and become better. That was it more or less; and also to get stronger.

Anyone at development camp that stood out and impressed you?

Sven Andrighetto, when I checked him I saw he had a few NHL games to his name. During the scrimmages there were so many good players.

What did you think about Montreal; did you get a chance to see it?

I didn't get a chance to see it during development camp. I saw a bit when we were there with WJC group. It was as you imagine, great with old buildings, nice streets, and I got to see the Bell Centre. No, no one recognized me, maybe next time!

How would you describe your style of play? Strengths/weaknesses?

I agree with the Top 25 Under 25, you got it quite right.

I am a two-way player. I consider myself smart, I am trying to open up with a smart play preferably in the offensive zone. I like to play when the match is "on"; I am a creative player.

My shot needs to improve, for sure. I also need to get stronger, we might get to develop that later in Sweden. Maybe it’s because of the bigger rinks, and for me it’s also that my skating lets me go outside all the time.

It will be even more important at a senior level, but not just to be bigger but also be more stable on the skates in order to stand up to a hit. I think it comes natural over there as the rinks are smaller.

The fact I am 19 years old and I am more known in Quebec and Montreal than in Sweden is crazy! - Lukas Vejdemo

Any particular player you are trying to model your game on?

Not really, but I like to look at Jonathan Toews, and John Tavares, they are really skilled and fun to watch.

You played a little with Mikael Samuelsson last year; did he mentor you in any way in order to prepare you for the draft, and a career in the NHL?

Yes - a few practices,  and one game only. He was very approachable, gave us some good pointers, and I asked a few things to think about for the future. It was impossible to take the puck off him, I need to learn that.

What are your aims and goals for this season?

With Djurgården to make the A-team, it’s the first game today, I think I will play. I don’t want to be on the fourth line and only get a few shifts a night; I need more time to develop. If I don’t make the A-team Allsvenskan would probably be good for me as a development league.

I want to have a strong fall and to make the Swedish WJC Team.

In the upcoming "rivalry" with Artturi Lehkonen, do you have any ideas about what to do to him when you play each other?

I am really looking forward to those games, to play each other. He is a nice guy, it will be something to look forward to. I'll try to get him off balance.

After being drafted you posted a picture of yourself with a Canadiens toque, have you always been a fan?

Only hat I had actually [laughs].

I had it since I was came over as a child, and when I got drafted it was an amazing thing to remember. Usually I only have it during winter.

Have you had any contact with any of the current Montreal Canadiens players; Jacob de la Rose for example?

Jacob - he called immediately after [I was drafted]! It was great to hear from him, and to hear that they look after you [in Montreal].

What did he say?

He said it was a great place, welcomed me to the team, and that he was looking forward to have another Swede in the dressing room.

How is your French?

I have one year of French from school, but I can't say much. I know how to count and how to say hello, for example.

Rapid Fire Questions

Favorite team growing up?

Djurgården for obvious reasons. Never really had a favourite NHL team, but now, for sure, it’s Montreal!

Favourite player? Favourite Swedish player?

Toews and Tavares as mentioned previously, and obviously Foppa! (Peter Forsberg)

Favorite Montreal player on the current roster?

P.K. Subban, he is great!

Do you have a nickname?

Vejde… not really sure why, two more letters and it’s my name!

Someone from the Eyes on the Prize boards (Lats) wants to know if you are on team Jacob or team Edward , although I'm still not sure what that means.

Ha ha ha! I don’t care [continues laughing].

Is there anything you would like to say directly to the fans of Les Glorieux now that you have the chance?

Montreal has been a great experience, I think it’s fantastic to see that people care so much about a team, my Twitter just exploded as an example.

The fact I am 19 years old and I am more known in Quebec and Montreal than in Sweden is crazy!

Thanks everyone!

Thank you for taking the time for us! Good luck tonight!

Thanks!

*****

We would like to offer a big thank you to Lukas Vejdemo for taking the time to have a chat with us, and to Djurgården for coordinating this interview.