Following time with the Hershey Bears and his Swedish team last season, Washington Capitals forward Mattias Sjogren is ready to spend a full year in the AHL this season. The undrafted 24-year-old center signed a two-year entry-level contract in 2011 with Washington and will become a restricted free agent for the first time in his career this upcoming off-season.
He had the chance to sign with any NHL team, but chose Washington. Sjogren’s agent Michael Johansson spoke about his decision to Jasper’s Rink in 2011. “He put a lot of thought into his decision. But after thinking long and hard on it he decided that Washington was the right club for him. Mattias is of course very happy right now.”
Last season, Sjogren spent the first part of the year with the Hershey Bears. The young Capitals prospect posted five points in 19 regular season games, but returned to Sweden to play for Farjestads BK Karlstad.
Hershey certainly could have used Sjogren last season, mainly due to their lack of center depth following Keith Aucoin’s call up to the Capitals. But even looking back on his decision, Sjogren says his choice is in the past.
“It’s impossible to say what would of happened if I didn’t do so,” Sjogren said. “This year I feel more prepared coming down here and I have a little better set up for myself, so hopefully it’s gonna be better and I’m going to feel better when I play too.”
This preseason, Sjogren has impressed at Bears training camp and throughout the preseason. He registered a goal in the preseason and is a lock to make the Hershey Bears roster.
Hershey co-coach Adam Oates spoke about his one goal performance following the Bears’ home preseason loss to the Binghamton Senators. “I was very impressed. I thought he played a lot harder, we’ve only had a few days of practice and I really thought he had a lot of intensity tonight and their line played very well.”
Even in his small time with Hershey last year, Sjogren impressed co-coach Mark French. “If you remember the first weekend when we played Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre last year, we thought from a coaching staff perspective that he was our best player. And that was probably one of the biggest reasons we did, we thought his strength down low and his ability protect picks was exceptional.”
He stood out in his lone preseason game and has been working hard this past off-season.
“I worked a little harder on my skating this summer, especially to be stronger in my legs.” Sjogren said. “The skating was kind of tough one me, probably for all the guys you’re tired after 20-30 seconds you were gassed up.”
The Hershey Bears open their regular season this weekend in Syracuse when they face off against the Crunch.