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Conversations with Lukas Vejdemo and his coach about his start to the SHL season

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Vejdemo hasn’t been finding the back of the net in 2016-17, but he has been catching the eye of the man behind the bench.

Tommy Holl

While the season started well for Djurgården and Lukas Vejdemo, the last few games have been a struggle. A 4-0 beating at home to the team that finished dead last the previous season, Karlskrona, has gotten under Djurgården’s skin.

While the team recovered slightly in a game versus the reigning SHL champions, they still suffered a 4-1 loss to Frölunda. The fact that Djurgården held it to a 1-1 tie going into the third was a surprise with how the game was played.

EOTP met up with the Canadiens prospect after the game, and it was a dejected Vejdemo that met us.

"Third loss in a row. It’s not fun at all. We had the chance when the third period started but then we got a few calls against us and they score twice."

He doesn’t hold back when it comes to his own role in the game’s deciding moments.

"It doesn’t really help with me taking the penalty that they score the go-ahead goal on. I feel it is a non-call really, especially since we didn’t get a power play at all. But at the same time, I shouldn’t really be there with my stick anyway."

The good play that the team enjoyed from the start of the season is gone.

"We suffer from some kind of hangover. The good play we had ... it’s impossible to find it again. The last two games has been an uphill battle, as from my point of view we did play well against Malmö. We just lost a tight game, then we had a terrible game versus Karlskrona. We had the chance to win it today but we were too uneven."

Recently, head coach Robert Ohlsson has formed a line of juniors, or a “pre-school line" as I dubbed it. Vejdemo laughs when I mention the name, but he doesn’t see himself as the father figure of the line.

"We have played together for a long time and we know each other well. We try to communicate on the ice and we know how we all behave. We didn’t perform as well as we should have out there today, though."

Vejdemo is a harsh critic, as the line created quite a few opportunities when they got out of their defensive zone quick, and had good zone entries as well, often with Vejdemo driving the play.

He had a couple of really good chances and also had a great set-up pass during a long drive in the first period. Is it bothering his confidence that he hasn’t found the net so far this season?

"I just want to get the goal to get the beast of my back. I had a tough time with scoring in Canada this summer so I am not sure where I lost it," says Vejdemo with a laugh to end the interview.

I also got the chance to have a few words with Head Coach Robert Ohlsson, formerly of Frölunda where he coached Artturi Lehkonen for two years. When he speaks about Vejdemo he has a huge smile on his face. The first thing that he says when asked about his player’s strength?

"His skating. He is also a very loyal player, but that guy can skate. Other things he is good at are his tactical acumen and the smartness he displays on the ice. The one thing he needs improve upon is his goal-scoring."

When I mention that Lukas himself has pointed that area out from the first interview I had with him, Coach Ohlsson points out that he “still works on it every practice."

Ohlsson comes back to the skating in a final statement when he points to the fact that he can use Vejdemo in every situation during the game. "Because of the skating, he rarely falls out of position, and therefore he can be used all over the ice.

"I think he has developed a lot. Last year he got to play forward, but now I play him in his natural position as a centre — where he excels, really.

Ohlsson can barely stop speaking about his young adept. He is also quick to talk about the Canadiens’ development camp, where Vejdemo was told more or less the same thing from the Montreal side, but he also points out that "it’s good for him to go over to such a camp and practise and battle a bit harder in certain situations than he does here. It really is a win-win situation for a camp during the summer."

Ohlsson smiles again and says "It wasn’t like Montreal came back and told him to work on his skating, that’s for sure! They said the same thing: ‘Work on your goal-scoring.’ That’s what we all say."

Djurgården played Skellefteå on Thursday, where they were finally able to bounce back in front of the home crowd. It will be interesting to follow Vejdemo this season, and I am sure we will be able to get back to him.