General Manager David Poile never rests. Neither does Nashville’s European scouting department.
Today Emil Pettersson and Victor Ejdsell, two Swedish centers, both reportedly signed deals with the Nashville Predators.
Emil Pettersson, a sixth round draft pick from 2013 who went at 155th overall, inked a two year deal and is expected to play for the Milwaukee Admirals next season.
Pettersson, 23 (1/14/94), finished ninth in the Swedish Hockey League in points (15g-23a-38pts) while splitting the 2016-17 season between Skelleftea and Vaxjo. The 6-foot-2, 164-pound center has spent the past four seasons in Sweden's senior leagues, first in the second division with Timra, then at the elite level with Modo, Skelleftea and Vaxjo.
Pettersson will still need time to adjust to the North American style of play and probably could fill out his frame with a little more muscle. Signing him four years after being drafted, could this be another European late-round hit by David Poile?
However, the much bigger news regards Bofors center Victor Ejdsell. A free agent coveted by two original six franchises in the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, the Swedish news site Expressen and NBC Sports are reporting that it was Nashville who ultimately acquired his signature.
Victor Ejdsell, another center, posted 25 goals and 32 assists this season, good for 57 points in 50 games. At 6’5” and 220 pounds, he is most known for his excellent play as a two-way center. Accruing 34 penalty minutes this season, he has the potential to become a bigger, badder, heel Mike Fisher. While some scouts believe Ejdsell to already be NHL-ready, the current word is that, should he not make the roster, Ejdsell wants to play another year in Sweden for HV71 Jonkoping.
Ejdsell’s signing is actually fairly significant in the history of the Predators. Even just last season, Jimmy Vesey skipped out on town to play for the New York Rangers when the opportunity granted itself. Jason Spezza refused to even entertain the notion of playing in Nashville. Ryan Suter bailed out on the Predators. I don’t even know where to start on Alexander Radulov.
The fact that the Predators signed a coveted prospect over two original six franchises, especially over rival Chicago, is no light fact. Years ago, this may have been unfathomable. Nevertheless, here the Predators are, sitting in the Western Conference Finals and having just signed a potentially NHL-ready prospect while leaving hockey’s royalty empty handed. It’s also reasonable to believe that the number of Swedes already on the Predators roster played a role in Victor Ejdsell’s signing.
Once again, assuming that Ejdsell is NHL-ready, the Predators’ group of centers now is Ryan Johansen, Calle Jarnkrok, Mike Fisher, Colton Sissons, Vladmir Kamenev, and Victor Ejdsell, with Emil Petterson in the pipeline. Just two years ago, this franchise had Fisher and Mike Ribero as their top two centers. It is truly a testament to David Poile’s ability to identify the team’s needs and fix them. If the Predators lose Jarnkrok in the expansion draft, they will already have two players ready to battle it out for his spot on the roster.