By Kyle Shohara
Following a career-setting regular season and a breakthrough performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jakob Silfverberg put pen to paper in the form of a sparking four-year contract, which will keep the talented 24-year-old winger in Anaheim through the 2018-19 season.
Ducks fans have seen Silfverberg grow and evolve in front of their very eyes, beginning with his first season with the team in 2013-14, a 52-game campaign that showcased his shootout prowess and wicked shot. Silfverberg appeared in 81 of 82 games last season and set personal bests in goals (13), assists (26), points (39), plus/minus (+15) and shots on net (189). Silfverberg and linemate Ryan Kesler formed a dynamic two-way duo tasked with the challenge of defending the opposition’s best players. While Silfverberg’s offensive production reached new heights this past season, his play on the defensive side of the red line proved he could play big minutes in crucial moments. He ranked third on the club in takeaways (41) and also tallied two power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and two game-winning goals.
Soft-spoken and laid back by nature, Silfverberg carried a big stick in the postseason. Entering the playoffs, Silfverberg had four goals and six points in 25 postseason games with Ottawa and Anaheim. Remember, it was the big offseason trade on July 5, 2013 that saw Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft come to Anaheim in exchange for Bobby Ryan. The Ducks used that pick to select left wing Nick Ritchie with the 10th overall selection.
Silfverberg seemingly made everything he touched turn to gold in those 16 games over three rounds of playoff action. He recorded four goals and 18 points with a plus-6 rating in the playoffs, ranking third among postseason leaders in assists and tied for seventh in scoring. His 1.13 points per game average in the playoffs ranked tied for second in the NHL with Corey Perry (Ryan Getzlaf led with 1.25, min. eight games).
Silfverberg credits his strong postseason play to the team’s bench boss, Bruce Boudreau, who utilized him in clutch situations.
“In the playoffs, I got to play a lot more than I might’ve played in the regular season,” Silfverberg said. “I felt like I got the trust from Bruce in different situations that I haven’t seen before. The way I played in the playoffs is the way I want to play.
“I wanted the puck every shift. I tried to create scoring chances. That’s how I want to play, and hopefully I’ll keep playing that way, with that confidence.”
The organization showed confidence in him with the four-year deal, which was made official on August 7. Though it took a little longer than he expected, Silfverberg said he and his agent were in no hurry. The long-term commitment shown by the Ducks, Silfverberg says, means a lot for him and his fiancé.
“You can settle down, relax, and focus more on hockey and not on what’s going to happen next year or the year after,” he said. “You focus on hockey and play as good as you can. For me, that’s going to be a big part of this contract.”
As for spending the next four years in Southern California, Silfverberg calls it “easy living.”
“These two years have probably been the best two years of my hockey career besides the hockey, too,” he said. “It’s a great team and organization. I like it there and so does my fiancé. That’s a good thing.”
It should really be highlights because Silfverberg had two goals worthy of the crown. If not for his game-winning tally in the final minute of regulation in Game 2 of the First Round vs. Winnipeg, Silfverberg’s crossbar-to-hand-to-stick-to-net goal on Mike Smith would’ve been the clear-cut No. 1 choice. This game also featured Kesler’s show-stopping shorthanded goal.
Game 2 vs. Winnipeg was another one of Anaheim’s thrilling comebacks, and it wasn’t until midway through the third period when the Ducks found the equalizer. With momentum on their side and the clock ticking down, it was steady Silfverberg who found separation from Bryan Little behind the net, giving him enough room to curl into the slot uncontested on goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who failed to hug the shortside post. Sure enough, Silfverberg found space to give the Ducks a 2-1 win. Anaheim went on to win Games 3 and 4 to sweep the series, advancing them to the Second Round vs. Calgary.