PITTSBURGH – With their first selection of the 2012 NHL Draft, the Predators selected left wing Pontus Aberg. As it turns out, he already has a connection to his new team.
Aberg played with Patrick Cehlin, Nashville’s 2010 fifth-round pick, with Djurgarden in Sweden. Aberg also knows Patric Hornqvist, who played with Djurgarden before he was drafted in 2005.
“Patric told me it was more professional on the other side than in Sweden,” Aberg said of his previous conversions with Hornqvist. “We’re both snipers and have great speed on the skates.”
Aberg, who finished last season with 15 points in 47 games with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League, also mentioned that he hopes to see Cehlin in Nashville for the upcoming Development Camp.
As a native of Stockholm, Sweden, Aberg looked up to Swedish NHL star (and former Predator) Peter Forsberg, but also likes to keep a close eye on Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin.
“I like their speed and taking shots from everywhere,” Aberg said.
Assessing his own play, Aberg added, “I’m a physical player that can take shots from everywhere. The rink is smaller so it makes it easier to use the shot and the speed … I think (the Predators) like my style of play and like shooters – it’s a perfect choice.”
With the previous connection to Cehlin, the Predators’ second-round pick was on GM David Poile’s radar long before this draft.
“It’s one of those things where maybe we got a little bit lucky to get him at our pick,” the Predators GM said. “I don’t want to [say] ‘I can’t believe he was there,’ but I think that was a good pick for the position that we were in.”
Aberg was a highly-rated prospect coming into the weekend. He was the sixth-highest European skater on the final Central Scouting Rankings, and was 15th overall in the International Scouting Service rankings.
For the Predators to nab Aberg in the second round appears to be a good value pick. Aberg was projected to be taken in the first round on Friday, but he’s perfectly fine with going to Nashville in Round 2.
“I was there four hours yesterday and didn’t hear my name,” he said. “I heard it today so I’m really happy now. It’s a big moment. You dream about this since you were a little kid. It’s only the beginning.”