BlueshirtsUnited.com recently caught up with Rangers prospect Daniel Bernhardt from his home in Sweden. The 2015 fourth-round pick split last season between Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League, Almtuna IS of Allsvenskan before coming to North America to join the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, where he scored three goals and 11 points in 29 games. He added another two goals and an assist in 14 games en route to a Memorial Cup title.
BSU: Can you tell me a bit about your game? Your biggest strengths and also some areas where you feel you can improve on?
DB: I'm a player who likes to have the puck on my stick all the time, I would call myself the playmaking type that can skate and shoot as well. I could get stronger and play more physical.
BSU: Going back a few months, you made the jump from playing at home in Sweden to joining the London Knights in the OHL. What was the reasoning behind that choice and are you happy you made it?
DB: I wanted to try the game on smaller ice and try something new. It was a big move with living with new "parents" over there and I do not regret playing there at all. I had one of the best times of my hockey career.
BSU: What are the biggest differences between the two leagues?
DB: The difference between OHL and SHL is that SHL is a men's league, which means I play against men who are older than me and have more experience. The SHL is tough that way. OHL is a fast junior league on small ice so the matches are played different than on big ice like in Sweden. I learned a lot from playing in OHL, every decision I made had to be fast.
BSU: How difficult was the transition from Sweden to living and playing in Canada?
DB: The transition was very exciting and I felt like part of the team immediately when I came there, even though I had to adjust to their living style which is different from my Swedish living style. I liked Canada a lot and it feels like my second home looking back.
BSU: How would you assess your 45 or so games with London?
DB: In my 45 games with London I learned a lot about playing on the small rink. Everything goes faster and the puck has to go to the net faster. I had a good start with 6 points in 6 games, and I wish I could have continued on that during the rest of the games. 45 games is 7 from 52 (the number of games played in SHL) and playing that much games in a couple months strengthens my mentality for sure going into next season!
BSU: I have to ask. No penalty minutes?
DB: Haha I'm not a player who takes penalties too often, this has happened before!
BSU: The team goes on quite a streak, winning 17 games in a row to capture the Memorial Cup. What was that experience like?
DB: We came together as a group and we really believed in ourselves, that streak would have continued with more games scheduled.
BSU: Looking ahead to this summer. You'll be back in New York in a few weeks for prospect camp. What are you looking forward to most?
DB: Yes I'll fly the 26th and the camp is a great time to meet up with the other prospects and kinda compare yourself to them. Looking forward to see the city again!