GLENDALE – Coyotes prospect Henrik Samuelsson is off to a very strong start to the 2012-13 season.
Samuelsson, whom the Coyotes selected 27th overall in last June’s NHL Entry Draft, has notched five goals and six assists in 10 games for the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
Last Friday, he notched two goals, an assist and a shootout goal in a 5-4 loss to Calgary.
“It’s been a pretty good start for me and the team, as well,” said Samuelsson, an 18-year old center who grew up in Scottsdale while his dad, Ulf Samuelsson, served on the coaching staff of the Coyotes. “It’s always nice to be able to score and help the team win.”
Samuelsson’s 11 points rank 31st in the WHL, the league he joined about halfway through last season after starting the season playing in Sweden on larger ice surfaces against older players. After the move, he scored seven goals in 28 regular-season games for Edmonton, and then four more goals in the playoffs.
In addition to creating offense this season, Samuelsson has been spending time on Edmonton’s penalty-kill unit, something he didn’t do last season. He welcomes the new assignment.
“You could be a purely offensive guy and not care about the defensive zone, but that’s not good,” Samuelsson said. “You have to be a well-rounded player. So I take pride in that part of the game, too.”
Samuelsson takes pride in being a first-round NHL draft pick and says the distinction is helping him be a better player.
“It definitely helps out a lot, to know that people believe in you and want you to succeed,” Samuelsson said. “(Being a first-round pick) definitely gives you an extra boost of confidence.”
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney watched Samuelsson play two games this season and liked what he saw.
“He’s very strong on the puck, and his sense of the game is really strong, with or without the puck, and I think he has an NHL level shot at this point,” Maloney said.
Becoming a more mobile and more fluid skater, Maloney said, is what Samuelsson needs to work on during his junior career.
“That’s the area that he needs to develop and I have no doubt that he will,” Maloney said. “He’s in a really good situation for growth. Edmonton is a quick team and they’re a good team, and it’s a really solid hockey environment, and I really think the smaller rinks (in North America) suit his game.”
Edmonton (5-3-1-1), which has lost its past two games, begins a five-game homestand on Wednesday.
“I feel like we could be doing better, but I think as the season progresses we will do better and better,” Samuelsson said. “As long as we work hard throughout the season we’ll experience success.”
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