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A one-on-one conversation with Montreal Canadiens draft pick Arvid Henrikson

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With their last pick in the 2016 Draft, Montreal selected a big defenceman out of Sweden. He spoke to us about being selected by an NHL team, and how he hopes to impress at the development camp.

AIK

Arvid Henrikson was gracious enough to receive a phone call on a Sunday morning during the midsummer weekend after having been drafted by Montreal Canadiens.

Congratulations, Arvid! What a day!

Thanks, and yes indeed!

Did you follow the draft in any way, and did you have a feeling that this could happen and that it would be Montreal that would pick you?

Yes, I was home on the sofa following every move. I had spoken to a few teams before the draft and I knew Montreal was interested, and my feelings were leaning that way. But then they didn’t have a pick in the seventh round, but traded with Winnipeg in the dying seconds to get me. It felt very good.

Christer Rockström is famous in this game for finding hidden gems with late draft picks.

Yes, and it is he that I have had contact with. He called directly after I was selected and we spoke for a bit. No one else from [management] has contacted me yet, but Christer said to have my phone on at all times and that they would get in contact on Monday, and then I go over to Montreal for the development camp on Friday.

Thats right, and you will have a fellow Stockholm guy with you for company?

Yes, Lukas Vejdemo. He was drafted last year, so I get to travel with him. He called me to congratulate me yesterday.

He was also a Rockström pick, and it became clear that Rockström really pushed for you to be drafted by Montreal yesterday, and when he pushes for someone we all pique up our interest a bit.

Yes, that feels great! I also understand that if people get onto my EliteProspects profile, they won't see that much information or merits. There is no national team there or other accolades.

The people I have spoken with in regards to you on and off the ice, they see you as a "huge, great leader, patrols the d-zone really well and has some offence to his game too." Also,"within AIK he is highly regarded on and off the ice; a character player and a future captain." How would you describe yourself as a player?

I am big, I have a good reach, I have good skating for my size; good edge work. I am a defensive player so my skill as a stay-at-home defender is where I shine. I am not the kind of defender that will score tons of points in the future. I play secure, and I have a good first pass to get out of the zone.

But you were one of the better defenders in AIK point-wise last season, even with the defence being your strength?

I averaged a point per game, but the league ... it wasn’t the highest level of competition at this age group. The differences are a bit bigger, hence my points total might be a bit inflated.

Back to development camp: is it your first trip to Canada?

It will be my first time to Canada, yes, and I don’t have a great idea about Montreal as a city, but I know they are crazy about their hockey team. It will be great!

What are your expectations on the camp?

I am there as a seventh-round pick, and I will be one of the younger ones, so I will go there and try to absorb as much as possible — to learn as much as possible — and of course to enjoy it, too. I will also have to put my foot forward to show that I want to be there. That might be the important thing. I cannot hide in the shadows.

Have you followed Montreal before this?

Yes. I watched "The Road to the Winter Classic" so I have a good idea about what went on last season, but with the time difference I don’t really sit up and watch games unless it is the early game over the weekend. But I haven’t really been a fan of any team in the NHL before, so it has been more to see different favourite players. That's how I have chosen games. Now I am a fan of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s an easy choice.

I had Lidström as an idol growing up and if he was playing I would choose that game. Now I follow P.K. Subban a lot. I am not the same kind of player though, but he is an amazing guy.

Speaking about that, I have to go and get a suit for the camp. My dad told me to get a red tie to go with it so I don’t mess up the colours.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

I want to get an important role on the team, and I want to play as much hockey as possible. I want to play good hockey and develop my game as much as I can and to take the team as far as possible. J20 Superelit is a good series, and lots of the drafted players out of Sweden play there, so it will be a good development for me. I also hope to get a chance to play for AIK in Allsvenskan (Swedish second tier) during the season.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and we are all looking forward to follow you over the season. Best of luck for the development camp and the season in AIK.

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I’d like to thank both Arvid Henrikson and AIK Hockey for helping out with this interview during what is a national holiday in Sweden.