With only two professional hockey games under his belt, defenseman Oliver Lauridsen
is a bit of a mystery to the Philadelphia Flyers
However, one current member of the team feels he has a pretty good idea what the big Danish-born blueliner is all about.
"I'm in the gym every day and I see him in the gym every day," Ian Laperriere
told NHL.com during the team's recent prospect development camp. "I know if a guy trains or a guy works out. There's a difference. There's people that train to stay in shape or there's guys who work out to get better, and Oliver is in that category."
A 2009 seventh-round draft pick, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lauridsen had a chance to further impress Flyers management at the week-long camp. It was his first game action since March 22.
After finishing his third season at St. Cloud State University, where he had 1 goal and 8 assists in 37 games, Lauridsen signed with the Flyers and was sent to the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League. Two games into his stint, on March 22, he got into a fight in a game against the Charlotte Checkers and suffered a season-ending injury to his right shoulder.
"I had a hit and then I got jumped and one of the guys that jumped me, we fell over the guy that I had hit who was hurt on the ice and I just landed a little weird on my shoulder," Lauridsen told NHL.com. "I got up and I had to fight another guy … and that fight didn't help my shoulder. I found out later I needed some surgery."
"I'm in the gym every day and I see him in the gym every day. I know if a guy trains or a guy works out. There's a difference. There's people that train to stay in shape or there's guys who work out to get better, and Oliver is in that category." -- Ian Laperriere
While he missed the experience 12 additional games would have given him, Lauridsen believes the injury came at a fortuitous time, because he had all summer to recover completely.
"I did my rehab, there was nobody rushing me, I wasn't rushing myself," he said. "The main goal for me after the injury was to be able to participate fully in this (development) camp, and I am. I could have done it a couple weeks ago, if need be."
The development camp went just fine, as Lauridsen showed no signs of issues with his shoulder.
"He went back home for a month, came back, and I saw him and his shoulder, you can't even tell he had surgery," Laperriere said. "And with Jim McCrossin he's got a great trainer to make sure his shoulder is 100 percent. If you get surgery and don't do the rehab your shoulder is going to be a problem down the road, but he knows that. He did everything rehab-wise and he's getting stronger. It won't even be an issue."
Being healthy will allow Lauridsen to play the hard-charging, physical style that got him drafted.
"I need to play my game and be the defensive defenseman I am and show I'm a pretty good skater for my size and make the easy plays," Lauridsen said. "And bring some physicality and toughness to the team, too."
Toughness on the ice is nothing new for Lauridsen, nor is toughness off of it. A native of Gentofte, Denmark, Lauridsen left home at age 15 to play junior hockey in Sweden for Rogle. After one year with Rogle, he jumped to the Linkoping club, where he played for two seasons on their junior team.
"We lived by ourselves," Lauridsen said of his transition to Sweden. "I had two roommates when I was 15 and we had our own apartment. I lived by myself the next two years. Obviously it's a big adjustment and a big step to take when you're 15."
Lauridsen matured quickly, which allowed him to make another life-defining choice -- picking St. Cloud State over a chance to compete for a spot in the Swedish Elite League.
"I've always valued the education part of it, since I went through high school (in Sweden)," Lauridsen said. "Then I had the chance to go to college and I thought that would be a fun time. It's always been a dream of mine to come over here and play. I didn't see why I would want to stay and have a job on the side, try to make the Elite League in Sweden, if I could go to where I really wanted to go and get an education at the same time."
Lauridsen credited St. Cloud assistant coach Mike Gibbons for bringing him to Minnesota.
"He came over and recruited me a couple times," Lauridsen said. "I think he saw me once with the Danish national team in Finland and then he came and watched a couple games in the Swedish junior league. It all went from there. He just sold that program. It was a great time, the three years I was there. Great school and great hockey program, some great coaches. We also managed to get some good results while I was there."
In 108 NCAA games, Lauridsen had 22 points and 143 penalty minutes, and the Huskies made the NCAA Tournament in all three of his seasons.
Now he's getting ready for his first full professional season. With Chris Pronger
's uncertain health heading into training camp, there could be an opportunity for Lauridsen to win an NHL job. Other candidates for the last defense spots include veterans Andreas Lilja
and Oskars Bartulis
, and fellow prospects Kevin Marshall
and Erik Gustafsson
What Lauridsen lacks in experience, he might make up for in size and raw skill.
"He's got a good head," Laperriere said. "I'm excited to see how far it's going to take him. The sky's the limit. When you've got a 6-6 guy who can skate and has pretty good hands for a big guy, and on top of that he's got his head screwed on right, he's got a bright future ahead of him."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK