In this report from the European desk we focus a bit more on a player that has fallen off the radar a bit: Lukas Vejdemo.
With his Djurgården team having trouble acclimating themselves to the style of play used by top teams like Växjö, Skellefteå and Frölunda, as well as to a new coach, there has been a big impact on the results. So far Djurgården has scored only 96 goals — second-fewest in the SHL — whereas last season Djurgården ranked fifth in goals scored at the end of the year.
Last year Vejdemo scored five out of 144 goals. So far this year he has scored four. With the drop in team production, that means he’s been responsible for a larger percentage of his team’s goals, however his assist production has dropped from having helped on 8% of the teams assists last season to just 4% in 2016-17.
Part of this can be explained by a change of teammates. Last year he played wing together with Markus Ljungh and Robin Alvarez. This year he has mostly centred a line with the two former junior teammates, Jonathan and Marcus Davidsson. It is a huge leap in quality and a completely different role for Vejdemo to shoulder.
As is evident on the five-versus-five Goals-for percentage (some great work provided by Zach Ellenthal) his rate has dropped, but relatively he is still about one percentage point higher than the overall team mark. This while having been strapped in a more demanding role.
Last week Vejdemo was the star of the show in a game at Luleå. He got his first goal in quite some time: a backhand off a rebound. In a conversation with EOTP, Vejdemo described it as "a falling leaf.”
“You need one of those to get going sometimes. It’s a shot and I am there for the rebound, it’s on my backhand but it went in, and that was the most important thing."
When asked about his season he continues with a rueful smile, "before the puck has hit sticks, posts, and been just to the side of the net, so maybe this was what I needed to break the duck."
In a previous interview with Vejdemo, he confessed that he works a lot on his shot, something everyone, including the Montreal development staff, points to as a big thing to improve.
"I have practised the whole season. I think when you are in a drought that a lot of it is in the mind. I keep practising my shot after practice. You need in the right mind, to see the net and not the goalie, otherwise you get locked into the wrong idea."
His second goal of the game was a great give-and-go in overtime to win the important game. "I just went for the net and tried to get it in. It was a great feeling when I saw it hit the net."
The coaching change has been good for him and the team, and the style of play with speed, forecheck, and winning back the puck early are all improvements. Coach Ohlsson stated to EOTP earlier during the season that Vejdemo was a key component for Djurgården and it was evident when Vejdemo signed a contract extension for another year, to April, 2018, with Djurgården.
Vejdemo himself has his eyes fixed on the prize: the playoffs. It’s something that Djurgården has been out of the whole season, but are inching closer to with every game, currently residing two points out of a post-season position. Vejdemo doesn’t even hesitate when asked about it. "We’ll get there no doubt!"
Joonas Nättinen, JYP
Points keeps coming for Nättinen in his quest for Liiga glory. JYP currently resides fourth in Liiga, and much of it is due to the stellar work from Nättinen.
Arvid Henrikson, AIK/AIK J20
Two assists in the U20’s earned Henrikson a call-up to the big team.
Magnus Nygren, Färjestad
The captain is sitting second among defencemen in scoring in the SHL. He keeps adding assists and goals at a steady pace from his position on the blue line.