During development camp the Penguins prospects get the chance to train on and off the ice, work with the coaching staff and establish themselves as players. And Swedish center Oskar Sundqvist knows that as a role player he can contribute to the team in more ways than one.
“It doesn’t matter if the coach wants me to go in and take a fight, I will do it,” he said. I mean, I do everything for the team and that’s what I’m doing back home in Sweden too. You always have to be prepared.”
The 20-year-old forward played his first full season with Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League – Sweden’s top professional league – last season. He helped his team win its second-straight Swedish Elite League championship by contributing six points (4G-2A) in 13 postseason contests.
“It was unbelievable,” Sundqvist said. “I mean, at age 19 or 20 I’m winning the championship for Sweden, and it was a great feeling. When you play against bigger, heavier men and stuff like that, you’re going to be quick in your thoughts and hands and everywhere on the ice.”
Another accolade to his name includes the 2014 World Junior championship silver medal.
Sundqvist stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 182 pounds, but knows that if he wants to play in the NHL, he will have to adjust his style of play. In Sweden, the rinks are larger and he will need to tighten his game a bit for the smaller North American ice.
“It’s still small things,” Sundqvist said. “Be a little bit quicker and stuff like that. You always, every day have something to work on and it’s mostly those little things that make the difference.”
Drafted by the Pens in the third round (81st overall) in 2012, Sundqvist has been to development camp before and is constantly working to improve his game. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since he’s been drafted, which is something he has been working on in Sweden.
“Yeah, I’ve been working on a lot of that in Sweden,” he said. “So I’m improving every day and it’s a great feeling to do that.”
While his next step is unknown, he is interested in playing in the American Hockey League next season.
“We have to see how I’m feeling and if I’m ready for it,” said Sundqvist, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Penguins on May 31. “To move so far away, maybe I will wait one year or something like that, but we will see.”
But, for now, the Swede said he’s happy to come to camp every year and feels right at home in the ‘Burgh.
“It’s a great city,” Sundqvist said. “It’s a lot like Sweden, a lot of nature and stuff like that. So, it’s a great team for me to come to. It’s a great organization. They take care of you and always want your best. The guys and staff are great. I’m just glad I get the chance to be here every year.”