COLUMBUS -- Jonathan Davidsson welcomes the expectations that the Columbus Blue Jackets believe he's capable of playing in the NHL this season.
The Blue Jackets are indeed high on Davidsson, their sixth-round pick (No. 170) in the 2017 NHL Draft, especially after the 21-year-old forward had 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 52 games and eight points (four goals, four assists) in 11 playoff games for Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League.
"It's good pressure," Davidsson said. "When I was back home last year, I had pressure on myself and it developed into something really good. I knew it was something that I can take advantage of. I grew up with hockey. Even if I feel pressure off the ice, when I'm on the ice I let it go."
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Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen believes Davidsson's skating ability could lead to a role in the NHL this season.
"Jonathan Davidsson in the Swedish League, was excellent [last] year," Kekalainen said. "He's got top-end NHL speed right now and he's 21 years old.
"Our scouts watched him all year. I've gone and watched him a couple of times at Djurgardens. It's a pretty elite league with a lot of good players. He was able to be one of the top scorers in that league."
Davidsson, who signed a three-year contract with Columbus on May 4, feels he's earned Kekalainen's praise.
"I had a season where I went and competed every game I played, and I worked out very hard," he said. "I think over 60 games that season, I did everything I could to accomplish that."
Davidsson (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) will have an opportunity to make the Blue Jackets roster, along with other forward prospects Vitaly Abramov, Eric Robinson, Liam Foudy and Alexandre Texier. Should Davidsson not make the team out of training camp, he would play in his native Sweden for another season.
"[Davidsson] played a main role and a significant role on a team in that league, so that leaves us to believe he's going to be ready to at least compete for a spot," Kekalainen said. "If not, we can still return him back for one more year and let him grow and grow.
"We drafted him as a 20-year-old. He's not your typical 18-year old that you've got to wait for two years before he even gets into consideration of coming to camp or making the NHL team, any of that."
The lofty expectations and exposure don't seem to faze Davidsson, who played on a line with his younger brother, Marcus Davidsson, last season. The 19-year-old was a second-round pick (No. 37) by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2017 NHL Draft.
"Sometimes it gets to be too much, but it's a lot of fun that people want to see me," Davidsson said.
Photos courtesy Columbus Blue Jackets