Max Friberg has signed with Frölunda HC, in the Swedish Hockey League.
Friberg spend the last year as the St. John’s IceCaps captain and is a restricted free-agent on July 1.
Friberg was a central part of the Swedish team that won the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship under Frölundas HC’s current coach Roger Rönnberg. It would also be a big step closer to home for Friberg, who grew up not far from Gothenburg where Frölunda is located.
Frölunda confirmed the signing today:
Montreal could keep his rights with a qualifying offer and see how his development goes with arguably one of the strongest teams in Europe. Frölunda is the team that developed Artturi Lehkonen, currently has 2018 top prospect Rasmus Dahlin, and many others.
After having moved to North America and the Anaheim Ducks, Friberg has played only six NHL games, all with Anaheim, while having spent most of his time in AHL.
In this year’s campaign, he had 31 points (11 G + 20 A) over 71 games in St. John’s. His role was mostly on the defensive side. His line with Stefan Matteau and Jacob de la Rose was usually trusted with the team’s top defensive assignments.
Frölunda has an outspoken goal of becoming the club "closest to NHL" and while it can be perceived as a move backwards for Friberg, players like Lehkonen have shown that you can make the jump directly from the SHL to the NHL.
Friberg might be looking for a similar situation and taking an opportunity to play close to home while keeping an NHL dream intact.
"It wasn’t a hard choice when Frölunda got in contact with me, that I know Coach Rönnberg from before was something that factored in as well. Coach Rönnberg is a tough coach that demands a lot, I hope to get to play a more offensive role that I have in the past year,” Friberg said to Frölunda’s webpage.
Despite the move, it would be safe to assume that the Canadiens send a qualifying offer to Friberg to retain his rights.