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Samuelsson should be right at home at draft

2012 NHL Draft Class: Henrik Samuelsson

Tuesday, 19.06.2012 / 11:56 AM / Feature
By Mike Morreale  - Staff Writer
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Samuelsson should be right at home at draft
Henrik Samuelsson, son of former Penguin Ulf Samuelsson, would love to hear his name called at Consol Energy Center during the NHL Draft

Henrik Samuelsson admits he was too young to remember what life was really like in Pittsburgh when his dad starred on defense as a member of the Penguins in the early 1990s.

Still, Henrik knows how special it would be for dad to hear his son's name called on the stage at Consol Energy Center during the NHL Draft in the city where he won two Stanley Cups.

"Dad had some good memories [in Pittsburgh]," Henrik Samuelsson told "The fact I was born there and that he spent so much time there and won two Cups is special. Hopefully for the two of us, I'll get drafted."

Samuelsson is one of five Pennsylvania natives with a good shot at hearing his name at some point in the draft, to be held June 22 and 23. Samuelsson, NHL Central Scouting's No. 75 North American skater, is probably the player with the greatest chance of being picked in the opening rounds.

"Though his skating is average, he finds the open holes and is very effective," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told "He shoots the puck hard with a quick release and has excellent hockey sense, soft hands and is tough to play against.

"He has a little of his father's edge at times and, with an extra step, could be an impact player. He does compete as well as any player."

Ulf Samuelsson was chosen No. 67 by the Hartford Whalers in 1982 and spent 16 seasons in the League with five different teams. Henrik's brother, Phillip, a defenseman, was drafted No. 61 by the Penguins in 2009.

Why did Henrik decide to play forward after his father and older brother opted for defense?

"I like to score goals," he said. "I figured I couldn't really score a lot of goals as a D-man, so I just stuck to forward."

Samuelsson has been on the move over the past two seasons. He finished with a bang in his draft year, registering four goals, 14 points and 20 penalty minutes for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League playoffs en route to the Memorial Cup tournament. He had seven goals, 23 points and 42 PIM in 28 regular-season games.

At the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Samuelsson was playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League. He would go overseas at the start of this season to play for his father in Sweden at MODO in the Elitserien. But after receiving limited ice time through the first half of the season, Henrik and his father decided it would be best to return to North America and join the Oil Kings.

Samuelsson thrived in the playoffs for the eventual WHL champion and finished with two goals and five points in the Memorial Cup.

"Going from the NTDP to Sweden was pretty hard at first," Henrik Samuelsson said. "I felt like it would be good experience for me playing in Sweden and playing pro over there, playing against men. It was an eye-opener because they battled every day and worked so hard."

No matter what happens at the draft, Samuelsson expects to be playing for the Oil Kings in 2012-13. The club is a young team that will return most of its key players.

Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald saw enough of Samuelsson to make this assessment prior to the draft:

"You have to look past his skating, because that is the first thing that jumps out at you," MacDonald told "No question he will have to improve his skating in order to compete at the next level, but he has real good size and is a real thick player. He can be physical and has a little feisty side to him, is strong on the puck and in front of net and in the corners."

Like his father, Samuelsson has a fantastic compete level.

"He showed he can handle the puck well and, while he's still a little rough around edges, his all-around game is solid," MacDonald said. "He's responsible at both ends of the rink and could be a dark-horse pick in this draft."

Here's a look at the four other Pennsylvania prospects regarded highly by Central Scouting:

Michael Houser, G, London (OHL): The Wexford native, the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding player, was the first American and first Knight to be named the Canadian Hockey League's top goaltender.

Wouldn't it be ironic if Houser, passed over in the past two NHL drafts, hears his name called in his hometown of Pittsburgh in his third year of eligibility?

"I feel he will get drafted," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told "His play over the last three seasons can't be ignored. He has the potential to have a very good pro career."

Houser played a CHL-high 3,698 minutes this season and tied the OHL record for wins in a season with 46. He posted a 2.47 goals-against average with six shutouts and a .925 save percentage, playing in 62 of London's 68 games. He helped London win the OHL title and advance to the Memorial Cup Final. He is ranked No. 16 by NHL Central Scouting among draft-eligible North American goalies.

"He's very competitive and aggressive, and outstanding in breakaways or shootouts," Jensen said. "He has excellent net positioning, is very smart at reading plays, and is capable of playing big games and making timely saves."

Houser, 19, came to London as a free agent in 2009-10; he was not drafted by an OHL team. His career regular-season record stands at 93-28-7 and he's posted a save percentage of .900 or better every year.

Travis Jeke, D, Northwood School (HIGH-N.Y.): The Pittsburgh native is ranked No. 184 among North American skaters. In 43 games at Northwood this season, Jeke had 10 goals, 31 points and 40 penalty minutes. He's committed to Boston College in the fall.

"He's been [at Northwood] four years but this is his first year playing defense," Central Scouting's Gary Eggleston told "He's just come on through the year to develop to the point where he's got good offensive upside. He passes the puck right on the tape all the time and has a great shot from the point."

Before joining Northwood Prep, Jeke played in Plymouth, Mich., for Victory Honda Under-16, posting six goals and 12 points in 29 games.

"He's an interesting kid because he was someone we didn't hear of before getting invited to the 2011 Beantown spring classic, where he played well," Eggleston said.

Riley Barber, RW, USA U-18 (USHL): The Pittsburgh native, headed to the University of Miami of Ohio in the fall, had 21 goals (six power-play goals), 36 points and 85 PIM in 60 games with the Under-18 Team this season. In 2010-11, Barber, No. 86 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 14 goals, 28 points and 48 PIM with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL.

"Riley is an excellent two-way player," Miami head coach Rico Blasi told the college website. "On top of having a really good skill set, he is tough to play against and is responsible at both ends of the ice. He has a natural ability to score goals and has great puck-protection skills in the offensive zone. He has a really good head for the game and comes from a good pedigree."

Barber is the son of Don Barber, who played three seasons in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. The elder Barber, who spent four years at Bowling Green University, was drafted in the sixth round (No. 120) by the Edmonton Oilers in 1983.

Justin Wade, D, Fargo (USHL): The sophomore stay-at-home defenseman was born in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He had two goals and seven points in 57 games for the Force in 2011-12 and is committed to the University of Notre Dame for the fall of 2013.

Wade's Canadian Hockey League rights are held by the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL.

"Justin Wade is one of those guys who is going to be a solid defender at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds," Fargo coach John Marks told "And he's only going to get better; he's going to be a force."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer




1 ANA 49 32 11 6 146 130 70
2 NSH 47 31 10 6 145 112 68
3 STL 47 30 13 4 153 115 64
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 50 26 16 8 140 127 60
6 SJS 49 26 17 6 137 135 58
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 49 26 20 3 140 127 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 DAL 48 22 19 7 152 157 51
11 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
12 MIN 48 22 20 6 131 138 50
13 ARI 48 17 25 6 111 161 40
14 EDM 49 13 27 9 113 162 35


A. Ladd 50 17 23 9 40
B. Little 50 18 20 9 38
B. Wheeler 50 13 23 10 36
D. Byfuglien 50 12 21 8 33
M. Perreault 47 17 14 0 31
M. Frolik 50 10 17 6 27
M. Scheifele 50 7 20 3 27
E. Kane 35 10 12 3 22
A. Lowry 49 6 9 3 15
J. Trouba 34 5 9 4 14
M. Hutchinson 14 5 2 .932 2.00
O. Pavelec 12 11 6 .911 2.52
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