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Senators prospect named Swedish league's MVP

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Sens prospect Jakob Silfverberg is the 2011-12 winner of the Golden Helmet Award, presented annually to the top player in the Swedish  Elitserien. A vote among league players determines the winner (Hockey Canada photo).

Jakob Silfverberg is Swedish hockey's newest golden boy.

The Ottawa Senators forward prospect has been named the most valuable player in Sweden's Elitserien (Elite League) for the 2011-12 season. A vote among league players determines the winner of the Guldhjalmen, or Golden Helmet Award, which is considered one of the game's most prestigious honours in the Scandinavian country.

Silfverberg, a second-round pick (39th overall) by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, finished the season with 24 goals and 54 points in 49 games, ranking second in the Elitserien scoring race behind Robert Rosen of AIK (21-39-60). It was a 15-point jump for Silfverberg over his scoring totals in the 2010-11 campaign (18-16-34).

Behind the efforts of the 21-year-old left winger, Brynas IF finished fourth in the league standings and qualified for the playoffs. The Gavle-based team is currently facing off against Frolunda HC in the quarter-final round and split the first two games, with each squad winning on it shome ice. Game 3 is Thursday at the Lakerol Arena in Gavle, also Silfverberg's hometown.

Last May, Silfverberg signed a three-year entry level contract with the Senators. He is considered to have a serious chance to crack the Ottawa roster last season. After putting on a dominant display at the Senators' annual development camp last summer, general manager Bryan Murray lauded the young forward's growth since his draft year.

"I really believe he is the mature guy out there right now," Murray said at the time. "From Day 1 coming here a couple of years back to now, he has shown remarkable improvement."

While Murray and the Senators believed Silfverberg was ready then to make the move to North America, the 6-1, 187-pound winger chose to spend one more season in Sweden.

"I’m very happy that they have such high thoughts about me," Silfverberg said last summer. "But my mind is on (staying in) Sweden ... hopefully, I keep developing the way I have in previous seasons."

His numbers would suggest that growth has surely continued. In winning the Golden Helmet Award at 21, he becomes the second-youngest player ever to do so, behind only Swedish legend Peter Forsberg.

Connecticut standout signs two-year deal with Sens

The Senators announced today they've signed college free-agent forward Cole Schneider to a two-year entry level contract, beginning in 2012-13. He's also sign an amateur tryout agreement and report Monday to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League.

Schneider, a 6-2, 185-pound native of Williamsville, N.Y., just completed his sophomore season at Connecticut, during which his scored 23 goals for the Huskies. His 45 points set a UConn single-season record, and his 78 points over two seasons are more than any sophomore previously recorded in school history in Division I.

Connecticut's season ended last Sunday, when the Huskies fell to Air Force 4-3 in the third and deciding game of their Atlantic Hockey Association quarter-final. Schneider picked up six points (3-3) in the series.

"We saw him night after night at UConn and he was the best player there," said Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray. "We just like his skill set and we think he brings an offensive dimension to our team down the road ... We had our guys identify him early in the year and we followed up on him a couple of times in the last couple of months here. We watched him play a lot and we just liked what we saw."

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