Jakob Silfverberg makes himself at home with the Ducks
Jakob Silfverberg was raised on the outdoor ice rinks of Sweden, molded by a distinguished defenseman father who won several national titles and influenced by an uncle who was once a national scoring leader.
“He’s got a great shot and release, so he’s going to score goals when given the opportunity,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Silfverberg. “More importantly, he’s very responsible — both ends of the rink. In Sweden, there’s a different style of play, where you have to learn the responsibilities of the game more than just a skill.”
When looking for reasons why the Ducks (7-2) have shown no slippage despite trading four-time 30-goal scorer Bobby Ryan in the off-season, the best place to start is Silfverberg, one of three players they acquired in July for Ryan.
Knowing free-agent star wing Daniel Alfredsson was going to leave for Detroit, Ottawa General Manager Bryan Murray sweetened his trade offer to the Ducks so he could make the counter-announcement of landing Ryan.
The Ducks also received wing prospect Stefan Noesen and Ottawa’s first-round pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray coveted Silfverberg after he played all 48 games for the Senators last season, and had been the regular-season and postseason MVP in the 2011-12 Swedish Elite League.
The Ducks, of course, don’t mind the salary savings — Ryan makes $5.5 million, Silfverberg $900,000. The extra cash allowed the Ducks to bring back wing Dustin Penner from the Kings and add Mark Fistric for defensive depth.
Although they knew the potential of the popular Ryan to score 30-plus goals in Ottawa, they also considered that in Silfverberg, 23, they landed a player who potentially could provide a 20-plus-goal season and keep improving.
Going into Thursday night’s game at Montreal, Silfverberg found himself tied with Ryan with four goals and three assists apiece.
“When you get traded, you start thinking about what you did wrong … I knew I had a good year. I was surprised,” Silfverberg said. " I developed as a hockey player, got more mature, a little bit better at everything and proved I can play all those games.”
Silfverberg makes his first return to Ottawa on Friday. Ryan already visited his former club in Anaheim on Oct. 13.
“I never met Bobby, I know the fans love him here,” said Silfverberg, who describes himself as more laid-back. “I can’t think of myself coming in and just replacing him. All I can do is go out there and work hard every game and hopefully the fans will like what they see.”
Veteran Teemu Selanne called his linemate “the full package,” and said it’s “amazing how ready he is.”
“It’s awesome: Younger guy, older guy. First season, last season,” Selanne, 43, said about his final campaign. “He can do anything you need out there. His mind-set is right, to play both ways.”
Silfverberg tied Selanne’s club mark by scoring four goals in the Ducks’ first four games, including two in the Ducks’ home-opening rout of the New York Rangers.
“Get in front of the net, win your battles — that’s where it all happens,” Silfverberg said. “I’m so fortunate to play with two great players who are so good with the puck and get it into the hot areas. When you get it, don’t think. Just get it in the net.”
He followed the lead of Selanne and Corey Perry on Friday by firing the game-winning shootout goal to the same spot where the veterans beat Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. Silfverberg, who has scored on five of eight shootout attempts, is on pace for a 40-goal season.
“I don’t think about points,” he said. “I just want to get to the end of the season and tell myself I became a better hockey player. What that means, I can’t say, other than I’ve developed in every part of the game.”
DUCKS AT MONTREAL
When: 4:30 PDT.
Where: Bell Centre.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Record vs. Canadiens (2013): Did not play.
Etc.: Center Ryan White won 10 of 12 faceoffs for Montreal in Tuesday’s loss to Edmonton. Defenseman P.K. Subban has two goals and nine assists.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.