|Senators prospect Andre Petersson (right) had a standout tourney for Sweden at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images). |
Almost from the moment he first wrapped his hands around a hockey stick, Andre Petersson felt the dream beginning to grow along with him.
“When I first grabbed a stick,” the Ottawa Senators prospect said when asked how long he’s aspired to display his talents in the National Hockey League.
“(From the time) I was four, five, six years old, when I started to play hockey.”
While the native of Olofstrom, Sweden, isn’t quite there yet, anyone who watched closely during the Senators’ recent development camp saw the potential of a 19-year-old forward blessed with a deft scoring touch around the net. Ask him to describe his style of play and Petersson immediately says “a goal scorer. Someone who can do things out of nothing.”
That scorer’s knack was on full display during a shootout contest held during development camp. Petersson won the day with an array of slick moves that produced a series of impressive goals.
“It’s from day to day,” he said modestly about his shootout abilities. “Some days, I can get every puck in. Other days, it’s like there’s a big wall in front of the goalie.”
Certainly, Petersson’s skills made an impression on Senators management, who watched his every move throughout development camp. Assistant general manager Tim Murray told the Ottawa Sun
that Petersson has the potential – and the hands – to develop into a player like Atlanta Thrashers forward Slava Kozlov, who’s racked up 348 goals during a 15-season NHL career and owns a Stanley Cup ring from his days with the Detroit Red Wings.
“They liked what I did with my skates and my hands, but they also told me I need to improve some things, too,” said Petersson, who admires the game of Anaheim Ducks sniper Teemu Selanne.
At the top of that list: bulking up a frame that is listed at 5-9 and 169 pounds.
“I need to work on my size, my toughness, my conditioning, things like that,” he said.
"They liked what I did with my skates and my hands, but they also told me I need to improve some things, too. I need to work on my size, my toughness, my conditioning, things like that." - Andre Petersson
Petersson will take the next step in his development during the 2009-10 season. He’s signed a one-year contract with HV 71, which reached the Swedish Elite League final last season and won both the regular-season and playoff crowns in 2007-08. While he saw 10 games worth of duty with the Jonkoping-based team last season, Petersson is pegged for more of a full-time role in the coming campaign.
“It’s a big step,” said Petersson, a fourth-round pick (109th overall) by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. “There is more thinking in the game (in the SEL). You have to be in the right place at the right time all the time.”
Back in January, Petersson got another glimpse of the place he hopes will be his future hockey home. He was a standout for silver medallist Sweden at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa, playing the gold-medal game before a tournament-record crowd of 20,380 at Scotiabank Place.
“I loved it. I loved the crowd here,” he said. “I would like to play here (in Ottawa). That’s my dream.”