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Strong, physical defenseman

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks
When the Vancouver Canucks drafted Anton Cederholm in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, not many, if any, Canucks fans knew who he was.

Well, that changed very quickly after a video posted on Canucks.com of Cederholm annihilating a medicine ball during the 2013 Canucks Prospects Development Camp caught the attention of many, including myself.

Take one gander at Cederholm and you can tell right away that he is a physical specimen. His body and strength are mature beyond his years.

“Working out has always been one of my biggest assets,” said Cederholm, a native of Helsingborg, Sweden. “I like to stay healthy and strong.”

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound defenseman uses that strength to his advantage on the ice, deploying a punishing, hard-hitting defensive game, suited to North American style of hockey.

“I would say I am a strong, physical, good skating defenseman with a solid defensive game,” said Cederholm.

Big, strong, hard-hitting defenseman from Sweden, you say? Like former Canucks blueliner Mattias Ohlund?

“Mattias Ohlund was one of my idols,” said Cederholm. “I really liked the physical part he brought to the game and the way he played defensively.”

Ohlund was the Canucks first-round selection, 13th overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Unlike Cederholm, Ohlund was in attendance for his draft at the Hartford Civic Center, not on holiday’s tracking it on his computer in the wee hours of the morning.

“I was so happy when I got drafted. I was on vacation in Spain and following the draft on my computer with my dad. We were up until 4am following it.”

Cederholm not only caught the eyes of the Canucks scouting staff, he also caught the attention of the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks, who selected the hulking blueliner in the first round, 60th overall, in the 2013 CHL Import Draft.

Cederholm is thrilled for the opportunity of playing in the WHL, a league that turns out NHL caliber defensemen better than any other development league in the world. The Winterhawks are one of the top teams in the WHL, winning the league championship this year in their third straight appearance in the WHL Final.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to come to the WHL,” said Cederholm.

“He is going to play in Portland next year,” said Dave Gagner, Canucks director of player development. “That is a pleasant surprise for us; sometimes it’s good to be lucky as well. We thought he was going to stay back in Sweden. As soon as we drafted him, within a couple days, we had a lot of interest in the CHL for the import draft, we had other teams that wanted to select him as well, but Portland ended up getting him.

”It’s a good situation for us, Portland is fairly close to here and we really trust (Winterhawks Head Coach and General Manager) Mike Johnston and the job he can do there."

Johnston is looking forward to the addition of Cederholm, especially with the potential of the Winterhawks losing all their Top 4 defensemen.

“He’s very good defensively, strong, physical in his own zone, moves the puck up,” Johnson told winterhawks.com. “We’re going to push him to be good on the power play as well.”

As for now, Cederholm will take the off-season to work on improving his game, particularly his foot speed, something he has worked hard on improving recently.

“There are always things you need to work on, but I would say I need to improve my quickness, even though it’s gotten a lot better lately.”

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