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Berggren hopes to live dream with Red Wings

Forward prospect grew up in Sweden rooting for Detroit

by Dave Hogg / Correspondent

DETROIT -- Jonatan Berggren was disappointed when he wasn't selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

But two picks into the second round, the frustration ended when the Sweden-born forward was selected with the No. 33 pick by the Detroit Red Wings, who he cheered for as a kid.

"Detroit was my favorite team growing up," said Berggren, who turned 18 on July 16. "I liked Henrik Zetterberg very much."

Zetterberg, 37, is Red Wings captain and one of many Swedish players who had a major role when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup four times between 1997 and 2008. The 2008 champions also included Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, along with forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Mikael Samuelsson, center Johan Franzen and defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

Zetterberg, Kronwall, forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson still provide a strong Swedish presence in Detroit, so Berggren will have several players he can rely on when the Red Wings open training camp in September.

"They had all the Swedes on the roster, and they still do," he said during Red Wings development camp last month. "I haven't met them yet, but I'm excited."

Berggren made his Swedish Hockey League debut last season and did not have a point in 10 games for Skelleftea AIK. Earlier last season, he had 57 points (18 goals, 39 assists) in 38 games with Skelleftea AIK's junior team.

At 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, he doesn't have ideal size for an NHL forward, a factor that perhaps kept Berggren out of the first round.

"I'm not going to be the biggest or strongest guy on the ice," he said, "so I have to use my speed. I was sad to not be picked; I had a good season."

Berggren's role model isn't one of Detroit's Sweden-born players, but rather Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 112) of the 2014 NHL Draft. Arvidsson has scored 60 goals over the past two seasons for the Predators.

"I play for Skelleftea, which is his former team, so I look up to him," Berggren said. "We are both smallish players with a lot of speed, so yeah."

But Arvidsson had a major experience advantage over Berggren; he was 21 when he was drafted and played 106 games in Sweden's top league, 96 more than Berggren.

Berggren likely will play the next two seasons with Skelleftea and visit Detroit for offseason developmental work.

In the meantime, the Red Wings will consider themselves lucky to have him in the pipeline.

"We're happy," Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson said. "He's young. He led the Swedish Junior League in scoring this year and a couple other teams said they were going to take him right after us."

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