Tue Feb 21 05:01pm EST
Henrik Samuelsson has to be use to packing and unpacking his bags by now. The 18-year-old has played with three different teams located in three different counties over the past two years.
Last year he played for the United States national team development program. He then weighed his options in the offseason and decided it would be best for him to move back to Sweden to play for Modo of the Swedish Elite League, a team coached by his father and former NHL defenceman Ulf Samuelsson.
"I weighed my options and looked at the pros and cons of both leagues in the summer," says Samuelsson. "By going back to Sweden I was able to be around my family and that was big in the decision. Modo is also in a very good league. I thought it would be more of a challenge for me and help me grow as a player."
Samuelsson's time with Modo didn't go as smooth as expected. He wasn't getting the ice time he wanted and ended up playing with Modo's junior team more than their men's team. This was ultimately the main reason for Samuelsson's decision to leave Modo for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League in late December.
"On Modo they were getting more and more players as the season went on, so my ice time kept on decreasing," says Samuelsson. "I ended up playing more with their junior team than the big club and that's not what I wanted to do. So I thought if I'm already playing junior hockey, it's probably best I play in a better junior hockey league. That's why I decided to go to Edmonton. I think this is the best route for me."
The final decision on whether to stay with Modo or join the Oil Kings was up to Samuelsson. However, his father's opinion on this matter did factor into his decision to move to Edmonton.
"It was up to me on whether to stay or go," says Samuelsson. "My dad did tell me what he thought was best though. He favoured the WHL and spoke highly of the league. That definitely made an impact on my decision."
Since joining the Oil Kings in early January, Samuelsson has had no trouble finding the back of the net. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound centre has scored an impressive six goals and 16 points in 17 games.
"I'm on a great team," says Samuelsson. "My teammates are very talented and they make it easier to score."
The Scottsdale, AZ., native has shown flashes of his father's sandpaper style of play. He has played a very physical and edgy game. In doing so, Samuelsson has already racked up 19 penalty minutes with the Oil Kings.
"I try to play with an edge," says Samuelsson. "I wouldn't say I'm like my father though. I play with an edge, but my dad's edge was a little extreme."
Samuelsson is definitely on the 2012 draft's radar. Since he was still with Modo when NHL's Central Scouting Service's released their midterm rankings, they ranked him 33rd among European skaters.
"I try to stay away from draft rankings, but it's definitely hard not to look," says Samuelsson. "I really hope I get drafted. It's a big dream of mine to play in the NHL."
1. What's the biggest difference between living in Sweden and living in Canada?
"I would say the food. In Sweden the restaurants are more of a buffet style. Here it's not like that. I like the restaurants and food better in Canada."
2. How have you liked the city of Edmonton so far?
"It's great. It's a nice city with lots of stuff to do. I've really enjoyed it so far."
3. How has your father made an impact on your hockey career?
"He has made a huge impact. He has taught me everything he knows and he always gives me tips on ways to improve my game. He also knows what it takes to get to the NHL. So he has been able to show me things I need to be able to do to get there."
4. Do you try and model your game after a player in the NHL?
"Not really, but I Like how (St. Louis Blues forward) Chris Stewart plays. He's a goal scorer that plays hard at both ends of the ice. I also like (Pittsburgh Penguins star) Evgeni Malkin. He's probably my favourite player."
5. Who's your favourite NHL team?
"The Pittsburgh Penguins. I have lots of reasons for liking them. My brother (Philip Samuelsson) plays for their farm team, my dad use to play for them, and I'm a fan of Evgeni Malkin."
Kelly Friesen is a Western Hockey League writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen (image credit WHL.ca)