Draft Prospect Profile: Henrik Samuelsson
Henrik Samuelsson admits he was too young to remember what life was really like in Pittsburgh when his dad starred on defence as a member of the Penguins in the early 1990s.
Still, Henrik knows how special it would be for dad to hear his son's name called on the stage at Consol Energy Center during the NHL Draft in the city where he won two Stanley Cups.
"Dad had some good memories [in Pittsburgh]," Henrik Samuelsson told NHL.com. "The fact I was born there and that he spent so much time there and won two Cups is special. Hopefully for the two of us, I'll get drafted."
Samuelsson is one of five Pennsylvania natives with a good shot at hearing his name at some point in the draft, to be held June 22 and 23. Samuelsson, NHL Central Scouting's No. 75 North American skater, is probably the player with the greatest chance of being picked in the opening rounds.
"Though his skating is average, he finds the open holes and is very effective," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. "He shoots the puck hard with a quick release and has excellent hockey sense, soft hands and is tough to play against.
"He has a little of his father's edge at times and, with an extra step, could be an impact player. He does compete as well as any player."
Ulf Samuelsson was chosen No. 67 by the Hartford Whalers in 1982 and spent 16 seasons in the League with five different teams. Henrik's brother, Phillip, a defenceman, was drafted No. 61 by the Penguins in 2009.
Why did Henrik decide to play forward after his father and older brother opted for defence?
"I like to score goals," he said. "I figured I couldn't really score a lot of goals as a d-man, so I just stuck to forward."
Samuelsson has been on the move over the past two seasons. He finished with a bang in his draft year, registering four goals, 14 points and 20 penalty minutes for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League playoffs en route to the Memorial Cup tournament. He had seven goals, 23 points and 42 PIM in 28 regular-season games.
At the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Samuelsson was playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League. He would go overseas at the start of this season to play for his father in Sweden at MODO in the Elitserien. But after receiving limited ice time through the first half of the season, Henrik and his father decided it would be best to return to North America and join the Oil Kings.
Samuelsson thrived in the playoffs for the eventual WHL champion and finished with two goals and five points in the Memorial Cup.
"Going from the NTDP to Sweden was pretty hard at first," Henrik Samuelsson said. "I felt like it would be good experience for me playing in Sweden and playing pro over there, playing against men. It was an eye-opener because they battled every day and worked so hard."
No matter what happens at the draft, Samuelsson expects to be playing for the Oil Kings in 2012-13. The club is a young team that will return most of its key players.
Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald saw enough of Samuelsson to make this assessment prior to the draft:
"You have to look past his skating, because that is the first thing that jumps out at you," MacDonald told NHL.com. "No question he will have to improve his skating in order to compete at the next level, but he has real good size and is a real thick player. He can be physical and has a little feisty side to him, is strong on the puck and in front of net and in the corners."
Like his father, Samuelsson has a fantastic compete level.
"He showed he can handle the puck well and, while he's still a little rough around edges, his all-around game is solid," MacDonald said. "He's responsible at both ends of the rink and could be a dark-horse pick in this draft."
Author: Mike Morreale of NHL.com