Senators prospect Jakob Silfverberg has enjoyed a terrific regular season, scoring 24 goals, adding 30 assists for a total of 54 points in 49 games. On Sunday, his team enters a wide-open SEL playoffs, to be followed by a spot on the Swedish World Championship team in May.
This morning, Jakob talked to Måns Karlsson of Swedish site HockeySverige about his season. Here is a translation of the interview.
One by one they’ve left the NHL and returned to Sweden during the middle of the season. For Bryn’s’ star Jakob Silfverberg it was a no-brainer to stay another year in the comfort of his hometown Gävle before the adventure begins in the best hockey league in the world. "It’s been very good for me to play another season at home", says the Swedish national team player.
After a good season, with an impressive 34 accumulated points in the Swedish Elite League and a strong World Championship performance, the Ottawa Senators were eager to bring their golden boy over this season. Jakob Silfverberg chose the comfort of Brynäs to further his development before he made the jump to the NHL. A decision he doesn’t regret. "No, I haven’t regretted it in the slightest. I’ve been playing a lot, and have been afforded a lot of confidence from (coach) Tommy Jonsson. It was never really close that I would be in Ottawa this year. I was very sure that I wanted another year back home. I felt right away that was the right decision for me.
Did you get any guarantees from Ottawa that you would be in the NHL this season?
- Well, I don’t want to use that word. But sure, they said I would have had a very good chacne to play this year already. But that didn’t matter in my decision. I didn’t feel ready to go over, especially mentally.
You haven’t played a whole lot on smaller rinks, do you feel better or ill-prepared to just jump into the NHL now?
- It’s hard to say. As you mention, I’ve only played the World Juniors and a couple of other games on the smaller rinks, of course it’s going to be different for next year. I can’t really answer if I’m better prepared for that.
Did you feel like you were missing out on something, staying home?
- No, I really didn’t. I just feel that it’s going to be a lot of fun playing in the NHL in the future, but I’ve been living in Gävle my entire life. It was extremely good for me to stay another year here.
Is that something you would recommend for everyone, or can you understand the players who cross the pond earlier?
- That is, of course, a question for the individual. I personally can recommend another year in Sweden. Take David Rundblad, for instance, who scored 50 points and dominated the SEL last year. It hasn’t been as easy in the NHL. Things can change quickly.
Has it helped that your father, and others in your family, have played hockey?
- Of course that brings some level of comfort. It’s nice to always have your father there to help you with decisions. He was thinking along the same lines as me, that it was better to stay for another year.
As a 21-year-old, you’ve been a captain for almost the entire season for one of the most storied clubs in Sweden. Do you see yourself as a future captain in the NHL?
- (Haha,) tough question. I won’t think that far ahead. First and foremost I want an NHL spot. It’s very hard to do, and I don’t want to think further than that. But I’ve felt comfortable being a captain and really enjoyed it.
Does it not feel strange, not being able to choose your NHL club?
- Of course it’s a bit strange. If you have a favourite team you might get a little disappointed if you can’t play there. Fortunately, Ottawa was on my list of favourites. It was big to be drafted. That’s one step in your career. All the NHL clubs are very similar, too, in that they are very professional and take good care of their players.
So you wouldn’t have liked to play with Calle Järnkrok in Detroit?
- (Haha,) well, of course I like playing with him, and it would be fun to do that in the NHL. But not in Detroit, he would have to come to Ottawa, (haha).
There will be plenty of Swedes in Ottawa in the future, with Lehner, Zibanejad, and Karlsson. Is it important to you that there are many Swedes on the team?
- I won’t say it’s important, but it’s obviously a factor that’s going to help. It will make it feel more like home with some Swedes on the team. It feels safe to know there are other Swedes on the team.
When HockeySverige handed out “NHL-style” SEL awards, you won the Lady Byng as the league’s gentleman. Respect is something that is even more important in the NHL. What is your take on that? Many accuse you and your Brynäs teammates of diving, for instance?
- Yes, my mother called me about me winning and was very proud. I think it’s ridiculous to say that we are diving a lot. I don’t understand where that’s coming from. Diving shouldn’t exist in hockey and it is not something I do. Showing respect to both teammates and opponents is very important.
You finished second in the voting for the Hart Trophy. How do you feel about your season? What aspects of your play have developed?
- Most aspects, I’d say. I’m a more confident player. Of course, you can say that it’s just the new coach, but mostly I think it’s about him giving me ice-time in all situations. That’s always going to raise your confidence level, and you become a better player.
Last thought: You have at least one point in 15 straight games. Fredrik Bremberg’s SEL record is 16 games. You’re don't feel like sticking around to break his record?
- (Haha,) no, that is not the plan. I’m extremely happy with the amount of points I've scored this season. I am very proud of my point totals. Staying another year just for a record just doesn’t feel very enticing.