Last Friday, the Devils signed both Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson to three-year, entry-level contracts. The Swedish players, selected only one year apart, will attend both rookie and training camp this season. But the big question facing both players is this – can they produce immediately?
This past season was a great showing for Devils’ prospects. Players like Mark Fraser, Vladimir Zharkov and Niclas Bergfors all received big minutes and contributed immediately. Other prospects, such as Matt Halischuk, had smaller roles, but still contributed effectively. Some players, such as Fraser, have a good opportunity to make the team next season. And it looks like both Tedenby and Josefson will have the same opportunity.
When talking about both prospects, Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello expected the players to be ready for the NHL.
“In our opinion we think they should be ready to make the next step to the NHL,” Lamoriello said to Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti. “They both had good seasons in the Elite League in Sweden. They’ve both had all the international competition they need.”
Lamoriello even went as far to say he believed there’s a good chance both players will be on the roster next season, even though he still has yet to find a coach. With all this positive talk and high expectations surrounding Tedenby and Josefson, I’d like to take a look at each players and weigh in with my expectations of them for this season.
Mattias Tedenby – LW
Tedenby, from everything I’ve read, seems to be the real deal. The Swedish winger, only 5’9″ tall, possess great speed and even better offensive creativity. Tedenby, the Devils 2008 first-round pick (24th overall), doesn’t shy away from contact, seemingly willing to throw his body around and play physical hockey. Scouts have also praised his acceleration, and some even compare him with Zach Parise.
But there’s always some flaws as well. In the reports I’ve read, Tedenby gets bashed for not playing good defensive hockey. Some scouts believe he can be too offensive minded, which diminishes his backchecking and defensive abilities. His size has also been questioned, but it seems like anyone under 5’11″ usually faces questions about durability, etc. in the NHL
Overall, Tedenby seems to be a solid NHL prospect. I do believe he spent some time in camp with the Devils this past offseason, but I could be wrong. From the reports I’ve read, he could easily become the next Bergfors and, potentially, the next Parise. It’ll be interesting to watch him develop through both rookie and training camp. I could see Tedenby making the team as a fourth-line winger, with the opportunity to move up the depth chart based on play.
Read after the jump for my take on Jacob Josefson!
Jacob Josefson – C
Josefson’s position gives him an edge of Tedenby to make the team out of camp. The Devils may lose two centers this summer, with both Rob Niedermayer and Dean McAmmond becoming free agents. The team also sorely lacks a true second line center, a role which Josefson looks more than ready to fill. Josefson, only 19 years old, played in the Swedish Elite League the past two seasons, posting a combined 81 points in 84 games. Josefson has been praised by scouts for his two-way play, something we all know the Devils organization preaches. They also praise Josefson’s creativity and playmaking ability. Josefson also plays a physical game, and isn’t afraid to mix it up.
But, of course, there are some flaws. Scouts laud his ability to score goals, calling his shot “decent.” There’s also a lack of aggression, and scouts would like to see if he can learn how to finish plays himself. Other than that, most scouting reports couldn’t find many flaws with the Swedish center.
Josefson is the prototypical Devils prospect; a player who thrives at playing a cerebral, two-way game.
After excelling in the SEL, it seems like Josefson is ready to take the next step. I expect him to have a solid rookie camp, and if he can earn a spot during training camp, I’d see a fourth-line role for him. But don’t be surprised, if he plays well, to see Josefson get some time as the number two center. The Devils have lacked someone there for the past few years, and if he plays well he deserves a shot to get that opportunity.
Overall, I think both Tedenby and Josefson will make the team this season. I think Josefson will contribute slightly more, but expect both players to see time with the Devils next season.