DES MOINES -- No one, including Iowa Wild Head Coach Tim Army, can blame Wild defenseman Gustav Bouramman for feeling a bit frustrated about the amount of ice time he's been getting this season.
"'Goose' has been playing very well," Army said of the smooth-skating 22-year-old Stockholm, Sweden, native. "And, he has played well even though he hasn't played a lot of minutes."
Such is the reality sometimes for American Hockey League prospects who find themselves on a team vying for a playoff spot with more seasoned players earning larger shares of the ice time than themselves.
Bouramman, drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round (No. 201 overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, is not only optimistic about his chances of getting considerable game time this season, but also understands that temporary disappointment often leads to success - something he intends to achieve with an NHL career.
That understanding illuminated itself at the 2015 draft. Bouramman watched selection after selection while sitting in the stands at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. He watched three teammates from his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds get drafted before him, along with forward Joel Eriksson Ek, with whom he would play with on Sweden's junior national team.
"I was expecting to get drafted higher after looking at all the rankings and all the lists," Bouramman remembered. "I went to the draft because I thought I was going to get drafted higher."
As each round passed, Bouramman wondered if it would happen at all, but then Minnesota eventually chose him.
"I actually was thinking to myself would I ever get drafted. When Minnesota called my name, I just felt relieved and was very happy," he said.
Bouramman, born in Stockholm on Jan. 24, 1997, grew up wanting to play hockey and soccer.
"I've always loved soccer and still do," he said, naming Cristiano Ronaldo as his favorite player. "But it became clear pretty quickly that hockey was going to be my sport."
Bouramman began his hockey career in the Swedish junior leagues where his father placed his son on a U16 team at the age of 14.
"When I started my Dad put me on a team in older age group than I could be in," he said. "I've always played hockey with kids who were older than me."
Since then, the articulate young defenseman has made steady progress up the ladder, starting first with three seasons with a highly talented Sault Ste. Marie team that was one of the best in the OHL in his three years with the team. Each season, he proved an effective attacker and playmaker from the blueline compiling 126 points (13g, 113a) in 201 games.
"We were really good and dominated a lot of the league," he said. "Unfortunately, we also had to play Connor McDavid when he was with Erie for the championship. He tore us up."
Last season, Bouramman led all Rapid City Rush defensemen in points with five goals and 23 assists in 54 ECHL games.
In 17 games with Iowa this season, Bouramman has just one assist, but Army said he and the staff knows Bouramman can play offense. The emphasis has been on developing his defensive skills, which have improved.
"He is getting better with each practice because he wants to learn," Army said. "The only problem with getting more time is that he hasn't been able to replace anyone. That is partially the result that Minnesota has been healthy at defenseman and so have we."
"It's been frustrating at times not playing, but I think I've been working hard in practice and improving every day," Bouramman said. "I've been working to keep my head up and just get better."
The fact Iowa is playing at a high level going into the second half of the season has made his transition into the AHL a lot more enjoyable for him.
"Winning is fun because everyone is pushing each other to get the next level," he said, adding that playing for a losing team can create an empty feeling among some players. "This team is fun."
Bouramman also said he and the rest of the team are looking forward to next two months as the club fights for a spot in the playoffs and in the process, becoming the first Iowa Wild team to do so.
"The important thing is to have a good team that can succeed and we have that. We are a tight-knit group and that helps a lot," he said.
He added the tension of knowing the importance of each game grows daily and that shouldn't be a problem for the team.
Instead, he said, the team will be able to overcome the anxiousness simply by practicing well and building its confidence to play well in each game.
"We will be feeling the tension, but to execute you have to be confident," he said. "And that confidence comes from working hard every day and creating good habits. When you have that confidence in a big game, you won't be stressing with the puck, coughing it up all the time. You will be poised and will make the right play."