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Mattias Norlinder: “You always want to be the top defender and play in every situation”

The new top European prospect discusses his goals for his first season in Frölunda.

2019 NHL Scouting Combine Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens prospect Mattias Norlinder had a sudden end to the season with Modo before signing with reigning Champions Hockey League champs, Frölunda HC. Frölunda is known for its tough offseason training regime and while Norlinder was used to Modo’s offseason training, he acknowledges that Frölunda’s regime as a step up — especially the notorious run up and down the ski-jumping slope three times in a row. It was tough but the toughest bit for Norlinder was the new exercises and making sure he got them right.

“The main difference is that it has been more training sessions compared to Modo, the sessions have been tougher as well. We have practiced hard with Modo too, but this was another step forward, and that was something I was prepared for. Getting the new exercises right made the first week interesting, but it made for a good start.” The results are impressive, and Norlinder has gained almost 8 kg (17.5 lbs) since last summer, weighing in at around 88 kg.

“I am super happy with the club. I haven’t spoken to [Frölunda head coach] Rönnberg about my role with the team. You want to make sure to make the team. It’s a boring answer, but I have focused so much on the offseason training so I haven’t really thought about personal goals for next season.” Still, it’s clear that the young defender has his eyes set on a big role. “You always want to be the top defender and play in every situation. You should always have those goals, if it turns out that way is something we’ll see in the future. You have to believe in yourself, but you have to allow yourself to dream a bit too.”

The team has followed Norlinder’s move to Sweden’s second city with interest. “I have spoken with Montreal quite a bit since signing with Frölunda. They are interested to hear about how I have adjusted and my thoughts on the move. It has mostly been with Christer Rockström, but they have been in contact from the main office too.”

With Edmonton Oilers loaning out Theodor Lennström to Frölunda, the competition will be higher on the blue line but Norlinder thinks this can benefit him, “It is another one I can learn from, and not something I see negatively.”

Frölunda will participate in two tournaments this season — SHL and the CHL. The CHL will be a straight knockout competition this year and will start away to Neman Grodno of Belarus on October 6. Norlinder looks forward to the competition; “It will be an adventure to play in new cities and countries, and also experience other styles of hockey. In the end it comes down to winning the games we play in.”