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BLOG: Nygard hopes his speed translates to NHL ice

"I feel the difference but it wasn't that big of a difference as I thought," said Swedish forward Joakim Nygard when comparing European to NHL ice size

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Whether it's in Europe or North America, forward Joakim Nygard is hoping he can burn the same rubber. 

No matter what size track he's doing laps on.

The Swedish forward spun his wheels at Downtown Community Arena on Tuesday, instantly getting a sense of the variance between rink sizes in Europe and those used in the National Hockey League.

"I feel the difference but it wasn't that big of a difference as I thought," Nygard said. "But of course, you felt it. It's much thinner."

European-sized ice is 15-feet wider than the NHL's, leaving less room and time to work with for players competing in Canada and the United States. As a result, European players making the jump - like Nygard and Gaëtan Haas - hope their games can transfer with them.

"There's a lot of speed out there," continued Nygard, who scored 21 goals and 35 points with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in 2018-19. 

"My biggest asset is my speed. I hope I can bring it here. Hopefully I can create a lot of chances and probably score some goals, too. That's what I'm good at."

Before making the move to Edmonton, Nygard spent his off-season in Karlstad training with a group of Swedish NHLers including Oscar Klefbom, Jonas Brodin, Marcus Johansson and Joel Eriksson Ek.

"That was a good experience practicing with them this summer," Nygard said.

Klefbom - Nygard's former teammate in Farjestad - admitted he was curious to see how the 26-year-old speed demon would look on smaller ice. The Oilers blueliner was forced to adjust when he made the move to North America for the 2013-14 season.

"He's going to be very fun to see and I'm interested to see how he handles the smaller ice, the speed, and the competition part of it because it's very different," Klefbom said of Nygard.

"I just remember when I came over and I played at that time in Edmonton and Oklahoma City. It's a big adjustment, but it's going to be very interesting to see how he handles that because I think he's one of those players we really need on the team right now.

"He brings a lot of speed and he's crazy explosive."

Nygard sought advice from Europeans who have made the transition to North America to help ease the move. He understands that it doesn't always pan out for some players but remains optimistic regardless. 

"Some guys it works for and some guys it doesn't," Nygard said.

"I'm going to give it a shot. I had a good summer behind me and I'm just going to do my best here and hopefully make the team."

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