GLENDALE -- On Monday, Coyotes prospect and Arizona product Henrik Samuelsson continued what has been an exciting past several months when he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the team.
Signing his first professional deal is just the latest milestone in a series of them over the past several months for Samuelsson. The Coyotes, the team he grew up rooting for while his father, Ulf Samuelsson, served as an associate coach with Phoenix, selected him in the first round (27th overall) of the last year’s NHL Entry Draft, and he currently ranks third on the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) in scoring as they get ready to make another run at the Memorial Cup this spring.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Samuelsson, who has notched 32 goals and 47 assists in 67 games this season. “Ever since you’re young you dream about signing your first contract and playing in the NHL one day, so this is definitely a step in the right direction and I’m just super excited about it. All my close friends have congratulated me and all my family has given me a call today. Everyone is happy for me and I’m just happy to share this experience with them.”
|Henrik Samuelsson (right). Photo by Norm Hall. |
But while Monday brought with it excitement and congratulatory phone calls, Samuelsson said signing his contract is only a stepping stone and extra motivation to his ultimate goal of one day playing in the NHL.
“I wasn’t too worried about getting signed,” Samuelsson said. “I feel like my play has spoken for itself. I thought it was going to happen over the summer, but I think before playoffs now it’s going to kind of be like a little extra boost to keep on playing good.”
Samuelsson said he can’t worry about making it to the NHL right now. Instead he just wants to continue to play his game, develop and help his team prepare for the Western Hockey League playoffs.
“Obviously, I need to get better in all areas of the game to take that next step,” said Samuelsson, whose Edmonton team has just three games remaining in the regular season. “But I’m trying not to really focus on that right now, I’m just trying to focus on the games at hand and since we’ve got a good squad here year with the Oil Kings this year I’m just trying to focus on the playoffs and hopefully getting on a good run to the Cup again this year.”
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney has liked what he has seen from Samuelsson this season in the WHL.
"Henrik has a very attractive combination of skill, hockey sense and grit," Maloney said. "He can beat you with his talent but also enjoy beating you by running over you."