Every so often there is that one player on the horizon that seems to fit the bill of a “can’t miss” mentality from a fan base. Especially a hockey one, as some hype has been brewing concerning a certain rookie to be making his debut on NA soil this fall.
I recently published a report on the upcoming 2019-’20 season regarding the Binghamton Devils. It’s rather a diverse mix of players with some veterans, a few returnees, sprinkled with new prospects that make much of the line-up. One of those prospects is a 20 year-old out of Sweden that will make his first NA experience on opening night when Binghamton hosts the Utica Comets on Oct 5th.
His name is Fabian Zetterlund.
New Jersey selected Zetterlund in the third round and 63rd overall in the draft for 2017. The 5’ 11”, 196, lbs forward might be a rock star with quick hands, and a good hockey sense as the potential is there, but how well that relates to skating is the question after knee surgery this past Jan.
The native out of Karlstad, Sweden has an impressive resume during his playing time for the Farjestads BK select teams since the age of 16 years-old in his native hometown. During his development, Zetterlund became a physical force while keeping the puck and maintaining control in front of the net and the corners despite his size.
However, that would all change.
Zetterlund suffered a knee injury late in Oct of 2018 while playing with the Farjestads BK in Karlstad, Sweden limiting him to just 16 games, recording 2 goals and 4 points. With the WJC approaching, there was a slight window during his recovery to participate for his home town club in Sweden.
But after he played through the injury during the tournament for five games, it was then decided for him to go under the knife in Jan of 2019 to repair the damage. Soon after, Zutterlund signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the NJ Devils in May.
Abbey Mastracco wrote a column for the NorthJersey after the fallout;
“He’s coming over and turning pro but we’ve got to get him healthy first,” (BDevils’ GM Tom) Fitzgerald said. “He’ll be in Binghamton battling it out for ice time and spots and competing.” While Abbey adds. “But the prognosis is good..(and he) should be able to take the next steps..”
Not seeing the player in action so far at the AHL level, I have to respect what our fellow members of the Panel have to offer.
Chris Wassel had this to say this past May for Dobber Prospects;
New Jersey answered our question by signing Zetterlund to the same contract structure that Mikhail Maltsev just signed. This is a three-year deal as well for again $925,000 AAV with signing and performance bonuses. The risk with Zetterlund is the twice-injured knee. How long does it take him to recover fully from the injury this time? New Jersey can be patient with him. If his knee recovers 100% and Zetterlund can play as he did before the injury, New Jersey has quite the player on their hands.
Another fellow Panel member Duncan Field had this to offer via twitter;
The Binghamton Devils player I'm most excited for this year is Zetterlund. He plays larger than his size, is generally a tenacious forechecker.— Duncan Field (@DuncanMRF) August 31, 2019
Was a good triggerman in SuperElit, and has the potential to score in NA
The only question is how his knee has healed #NJDevils
By all accounts, Zutterlund will be ready come training camp. With New Jersey naturally as the goal, Zutterlund must first take several steps beforehand during the process, and that process begins on the streets of Binghamton.
With the hype surrounding his arrival, this community could use a lift or two in the hockey corners after disappointing results in the standings following the last couple of seasons. I am not suggesting someone from Europe is the answer.
But if a player like Zutterlund’s talents could aid in turning around this franchise in the Southern Tier of NY, I’m all for it.
All hands-on in rooting for him and the Binghamton Devils once the puck drops for the 2019-’20 campaign.
Coming up: I’ll have further coverage once camp breaks-out in Binghamton, including behind the scene’s footage and player interviews, but in a round about way.