According to the Oilers’ official Twitter account, the team has signed right-handed defenceman, Joel Persson, to a one-year contract extension as he continues to make his way through another wonderful season with Vaxjo HC of the SHL.
When the Oiler first signed Joel Persson to a one year contract back in May, not much was known about the smooth-skating defenceman aside from the fact that he’s right-handed and able to put up some offence from the back end. Both of those things alone made him a prospect worthy of our attention, but would he really be able to help? If so, how long would it take? All we really knew that he was signed for a year and that the Oilers would be leaving him in Sweden to continue to work on his craft, giving both the team and the player plenty of leash just in case things didn’t work out. The deal allowed the Oilers to maintain control of the player while giving him the time and space to grow without having too much pressure placed upon him to come to North America too early. Out of sight, out of mind… at least for the time being.
Then, a couple of months ago, I recapped an article from our friends at Elite Prospects that profiled Joel Persson and talked about the incredible season he’s having with the Vaxjo Lakers. The article talked about Persson’s life as a teacher’s assistant before working his way through Sweden’s minor leagues and into the big show. Franky, the guy’s life story could be turned into the kind of feel-good movie that would make you shed some manly tears by the end of it. Basically, what I’m saying is that this dude has been on the grind for the past couple of seasons and it’s pretty miraculous to see where he’s ended up. If you haven’t had a chance to read about Persson’s backstory and climb to Sweden’s best league, it’s worth a read because his career path is anything but common. From being a T.A. to a second NHL contract is a hell of a ride, ya know?
This season, the 5’11’, 176-pound defenceman is playing in his second year with the Vaxjo Lakers where he ranks second in overall team scoring (right behind Roman Horak btw) with 22 points (4G, 18A) in 35 games to go along with six PIMs and a +2 rating. And while we don’t yet know the full details of the deal, I’ll be interested to see what comes next for the 24-year-old defenceman. Will he stay in Sweden for another year? Will he make is way over to North America for the 2019-20 season to start learning our flavour of the game? As Lowetide always says, we wait.
WHO IS JOEL PERSSON?
It’s been a while since we last checked in on Persson so I thought that now would be a good time to offer a refresher on just who this and what he could potentially provide on the Oilers’ blue line. So who are we talking about? Let the Internet be our guides.
Persson is an offensive defenseman with a great shot from the point. With high-end puck skills and vision, he excels on the power play. Not a speedster, but owns decent mobility and can walk the blueline very well. On the downside, he is smallish and not much of a force in his own end.
Over at Lowetide’s site, he spoke to former Oilers goalie Mike Zanier about Persson:
“He came to camp a number 7 D. Was the QB of the PP by October. Started out more as an offensive player but has developed into a solid D & still QB to the best PP in the SHL. Though Elias Pettersson might have something to do with that, he’s definitely worth looking at (for an NHL team).”
Back in February, Dobber Prospects spoke about Persson as a free agent of interest heading into the summer:
One interesting free agent on the Växjö team is 23-year-old defenseman Joel Persson (UFA) who has an impressive 30 points in 44 games but there are reasons to be concerned because 21 of those 30 points have come on the power play, and he has 13 secondary assists. Persson is a purely offensive defenseman who is playing a bit of a sheltered role – he’s playing just 16:42 per game which is fifth highest among defensemen on his team, with 2:46 of that on the power play, and he isn’t used on the penalty kill at all. Persson was playing third tier hockey in Sweden last season, so what he’s doing now is impressive but it’s unlikely he can make another jump to the NHL unless someone needs a power play specialist.
A power play specialist? Offence from the blue line? Seems like there could be a fit here, I reckon.
PERSSON’S SEASON SO FAR
Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Twitter Account, 1/29/2019 – 3:30 pm MT