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A Competitive Character

At only 5-7, Flyers draft pick Jesper Pettersson does more than make up for size

Tuesday, 07.15.2014 / 10:00 AM / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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A Competitive Character
At only 5-7, Flyers draft pick Jesper Pettersson does more than make up for size

Jesper Pettersson has tall hopes -- and we don’t just mean for a guy who is only 5-7. At 195 pounds, this defenseman has the width that he lacks in height and wouldn’t be at Flyers Development Camp if the guys who selected him didn’t believe in his depth of character.

“We have been watching him for three years,” said Director of Scouting Chris Pryor. “Every time you saw him you thought, ‘I like this player’ but it’s the same old thing, you just wish he was a little taller.

RECAPPING TRIAL ON THE ISLE

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  WATCH: COMPETITION ON THE BEACH

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“Everybody you talk to [in Europe] says he has character and competes. You never know with these guys, but character and compete goes a long ways.”

Pettersson didn’t come the distance from Stockholm for this six-day orientation camp just to see Voorhees. Disappointed in 2013 to be passed over for a second straight year in the draft -- even after making Sweden’s World Junior Tournament roster -- he wasn’t tracking the picks on June 27 before his older brother broke the news that Pettersson had been taken by the Flyers in the seventh round, with choice No. 198 of a 210-pick draft. Nevertheless, he hardly had to be talked into attending this camp, though.

“The NHL is the best league there is,” Pettersson said. “If I get a chance, then of course I want to be here.”

Once you get a foot through the bench door, it should be neither here nor there whether you were drafted in the second round or the seventh. Dave Brown (seventh round, 1982) Todd Fedoruk, (seventh round, 1997), and Reggie Lemelin (seventh round, 1974), all had NHL careers that lasted significantly longer than just development camp.

Pettersson, who already has played 62 games in the Swedish Elite League, doesn’t have the offensive upside of a Kimmo Timonen, once a tenth-round pick who beat the odds. What Pettersson can do is skate, hit, read plays and get rid of the puck safely.

Next, he must convince people he can last, particularly in the North American sardine-can rinks, where little Euros are supposed to yearn for the big ponds of their homelands.

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Granted, on either continent, you won’t get pounded as much if you are doing the pounding.

“Of course I like to hit, that’s why I love the sport.” Pettersson said. “And I like the smaller rink.

“It fits me better than a bigger rink. I am not the tallest guy with the longest stick. “

So is it a reach to think he can play for the Flyers some day?

“He knows how to play defense and gets the puck and moves it,” said Pryor. “Those are good attributes for a defensemen.”

Another one is fearlessness. At the WJC in January Pettersson left the penalty box to take a swing at a Russian, drawing a suspension for the championship game. This was not good for Sweden, which lost the title contest to Finland, but probably didn’t hurt Pettersson’s draft status.

“A hundred times I have explained to people,” he said. “Everybody thinks I just wanted to fight him.

“First, I wanted to go to the guys and separate them. In the corner I saw five or six Russians and two Swedish guys.

“If the same thing happened again I would skate there again but I may do it in a different way. I wanted to play the last game, of course, but I will stand up for my teammates.”

In big rinks or little rinks, that’s the kind of mindset that gets even a 5-7 prospect taken seriously. Remember, Pettersson is not trying to make it as a rebounder in the NBA.

His junior eligibility over, he is eligible and anxious to join the Phantoms or, if he loses out to numbers there, take a spot at Reading. With training camp still two months away, it’s too early to give you the lowdown on his chances but we can tell you this: Jesper Pettersson can get lowdown on bigger forwards, apple carts begging to be upset.

There has to be some advantage to a low center of gravity, right?

“I guess so,” he smiled. “But I don’t really know.

“I’ve never had a high one. Never been a tall guy.”

WATCH: RECAP THROUGH THE FIRST FOUR DAYS OF DEVELOPMENT CAMP

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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