Jakob Silfverberg, the subject of the Murray brain trust’s adulation during the team’s developmental camp, has responded to the organization’s siren song.
But before getting into the latest turn of events, I’ll summarize what has transpired thus far. In late June, Jakob spoke to the media about his desire to return to the Swedish Elite League (SEL) for one more season.
“It’s a good chance to go back to my team and play both power play and box (short-handed) play, hopefully have a good season and develop like I did this season,” said Silfverberg, a 20-year-old forward who stands 6-foot-2 and checks in at 190 lbs. “I think it’s good for me, both for the talent and physical, to get bigger and stronger and improve every aspect of my game.” ~ Via Don Brennan, Sun Media (Wednesday, June 29th, 2011.)
Apparently, Silfverberg is his harshest critic because the organization has heaped nothing but praise towards him over the past few weeks.
“Everyone is all excited about our three first-rounders. But I can tell you, for a second-round pick (in 2009), I’m as sure of him being an NHL player as I am of anyone in this organization. I can tell you this guy is an NHL hockey player.
“The one thing that’s got to pick up is his quickness off the mark. If he can work on that, it will determine where he plays in the NHL. If his quickness off the mark can be just a tad better, he’s a top-two line player. If not, he’s a third line player.” ~ Pierre Dorion
And when asked what he could say to change Silfverberg's mind about returning to Sweden next season, Bryan Murray said, “I’m just going to tell him I think he’s ready.”
So how has Silfverberg responded?
Well, in an interview with Ola Winther for Hockeysverige.se, the prospect said, “Jag är självklart oerhört glad över att de har så höga tankar om mig men jag känner att jag behöver bli större, starkare och utveckla mitt spel ytterligare en nivå innan jag tar steget över. Därför har jag också tagit beslutet att stanna i Sverige ytterligare en säsong.”
I know. I know. You, the reader, are probably irked because the quote is in Swedish and there's a bit of a language barrier issue here.
Well, fortunately for you, I've turned to SteffeG to help you out. If you’ll recall, SteffeG is a fantastic tweeter (@steffeG) on anything SEL and he also happens to be a Sens fan. (Note: This past April, he did a fantastic interview with Scott that discussed everything Senators-related in the SEL. If you haven’t already, I recommend giving it a read and for Alfie's sake, start following him on Twitter as well.)
According to our friend, what Silfverberg said translates to, "I'm glad to hear it but I need to be bigger, stronger and elevate my game another level before I jump in. That's why I've decided to stay in Sweden another year".
And when I asked him for his take on the situation, he emailed me with this:
The Curious Case of Jakob Silfverberg is a tricky one to decipher. When he signed his contract after the World Championships it was with the condition that he would play another year with his hometown team Brynäs of the SEL. However, in lights of Pierre Dorion's and Bryan Murray's recent comments, they seem eager to convince him that he should be playing in Ottawa. Despite what he says, I think he could be tempted by this. Silfverberg and his Swedish agent Patrik Aronsson will need to sit down and think this through. This year - without sounding too pessimistic - is probably as easy an opportunity as he'll ever get to grab an NHL spot without spending time in the AHL. This opportunity might not be there next year. The team will be improving; a lot of our young guys will establish themselves as NHLers this year. From a simple contract perspective, the only NHL spot owners scheduled to leave is Konopka and Winchester, and it's not a too risky bet at least one of them will be re-signed. Silfverberg will have to put up a hell of a season with Brynäs to go straight into the NHL next season without any AHL time, if only a few of the prospects that will see a ton of NHL action this year establish themselves in the top-6 or top-9.
One other issue, even if Silfverberg realizes this, he's got his loyalty to Brynäs. He was born in Gävle, the town which Brynäs is located in, and he's been with them from pee-wee all the way up to be a carrying player on the senior team. SEL teams are usually finished building the vast majority of their team in April, so if he changes his mind now, it'll leave a big hole on their roster that will be hard to fill at this time of the year, especially since Silfverberg's playing essentially for free compared to what a player of his calibre to replace him would cost.
The Sens have him under contract, so technically they have the final say in this. Everything Silfverberg has said and done thus far is of course pointing towards him staying. However, everything Pierre Dorion and the Murray's have said and done is pointing towards they want him in OTT come camp. Will be interesting to see what will go winning during the battle - the dream of playing in the NHL, or the loyalty to Brynäs and the comfort of playing a big role on the hometown team. I think he will "budge" eventually.
Thanks again to SteffeG for the time and translation.