For Fredrik Pettersson, the second decision to leave Sweden and continue his hockey career in North America was easier than the first.
That’s saying a lot for the Thrashers forward who called his initial attempt to make the NHL “probably my best decision in my life so far.”
Pettersson signed a two-way contract with the Thrashers in June after three seasons playing for Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League. The left wing first came to North America in 2005 after being drafted by Edmonton in the fifth round (157th overall). Pettersson, 23, spent two years with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.
“I thought it went great,” Pettersson said of his time in Calgary. “I had a lot of fun and played a lot of games. … They didn’t sign me [following his two seasons] and I went back home.”
After competing for Sweden in the World Championships this summer, the NHL came calling again. This time it was the Thrashers that showed an interest and Pettersson jumped at the opportunity.
“My decision to come back over and play was pretty easy, I can tell you that,” Pettersson said. “Everybody wants to play in the NHL. Now I’m here and it feels good.”
Pettersson, 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, had 93 points in two AHL seasons, scoring 22 and 21 goals. Once he returned to Sweden, Pettersson continued to produce. From 2007-10, he scored 34 goals, including 20 last season. He had a goal and an assist in seven games in the World Championships.
“My first year when I went back [to Sweden] I only played 7-10 minutes,” Pettersson said. “Last year I played between 18-25 minutes. I played a lot and I played everything, penalty kill, power play. It was good for me. I worked a lot those years I was home just to get back here. This is the best league in the world. This is where you want to play.”
Since arriving in the United States two weeks ago, and staying with Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom, Pettersson took part in voluntary workouts with other players in preparation for rookie camp, which began Monday. By signing a two-way contract with the Thrashers, Pettersson could be sent to AHL Chicago following training camp. He will have a tough assignment with a locker room full of new players fighting for a few available roster spots.
“Obviously, I didn’t come here to play in the AHL,” Pettersson said. “I came here to play in the NHL. There are a lot of good players here, I know. The only thing I can do is go out there and play my game and work hard. I like to work hard.”
Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said he has watched little of voluntary workouts, but has been impressed with what he’s seen from Pettersson and some of the young prospects.
Pettersson said his size, 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, won’t be a hindrance. He described himself as a two-way player with speed that likes to shoot and hit.
“I think my best thing is I work hard and I come to work every day,” Pettersson said.
The Thrashers four-day rookie camp continues through Thursday before training camp begins on Saturday. Here is the upcoming schedule:
Four-on-four scrimmage, noon-12:45 p.m.
Practice, 1:15-2 p.m.
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