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Photo Credit: Linnea Rheborg

Oilers sign Joel Persson to one year contract extension

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?

Defenceman Joel Persson of the SHL Vaxjo Lakers

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.

From Erik K. Pirri at Elite Prospects:

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

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
2017-18 Vaxjo HC SweHL 51 6 28 34 8 17 13 1 4 5 0
2018-19 Vaxjo HC SweHL 35 4 18 22 6 2

Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Twitter Account, 1/29/2019 – 3:30 pm MT

  • bazmagoo

    Persson looks like a decent prospect.

    All is good. Burger Bob had a glass of water this morning and decided to interview more than one person for the GM role this time around. How Oilers of him.

    • Jaxon

      It works out to about 1 player 190 lbs or lighter on every team. Of 185 D (6 D x 31 teams = 186D) who have played 27 games or more this season, 32 are 190 lbs or lighter, including Erik Karlsson, Rasmus Dahlin, Tyson Barrie, Will Butcher, Torey Krug, Neil Pionk, Alex Goligoski, TJ Brodie, Sami Vatanen, Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Hickey, Jordan Oesterle, Matt Dumba, Ryan Ellis, Travis Sanheim, John Klingberg, Shayne Gostisbehere, Tony DeAngelo, Julius Honka, Kris Russell, and Jared Spurgeon. As mentioned, Elite Prospects and Wikipedia both have him as 187lbs and he still has a summer to work on getting bigger and stronger before coming over. Teacher’s Assistants aren’t really known for their excellent training regime.

  • TKB2677

    I assume because it has to do with the Oilers, that most fans see it as a terrible move? The default response seems to be automatically bad for a lot of Oilers fans.

    • Spydyr

      Nothing wrong with the move all it takes up is a spot on the 50 man roster. The thing for me is it is another long shot / pie in the sky prospect.

      I prefer a Benson type prospect. A guy that appears to have all the tools to make it and just needs some seasoning in the AHL.

      • >The thing for me is it is another long shot / pie in the sky prospect

        I’ll put down $50 that you’ve never seen him play before and don’t actually know much about him outside of this articles content

      • ed from edmonton

        Sure we would all prefer to “see” a prospect showing well in the AHL. And yes Person still in the Longshot group, but still better than the no shot group. If he turns into an NHL player he will be found money. If he doesn’t nothing ventured nothing gained.

        • TKB2677

          I agree with you Oilman. The league is moving towards having more and more puck moving, good skating dmen. Even Chia would mention that. But what does he do? Signs a Stanton and Lowe last year. Brings in a Gryba, Manning, Petrovic, trades for Reinhart. All these guys who do the opposite of what the league is doing. I don’t know if Persson will ever work out but at least he has the skill set that the league is moving towards.

      • TKB2677

        So I am curious to know what tools do you think Persson is lacking that makes him such a long shot vs a Benson?

        The days of the big bruising dman are quickly disappearing. Instead of wanting your dmen to be nasty S.O.B’s who make life miserable, teams want their dmen to be able to think the game, move the puck, skate well, walk the line, run a PP, jump up in the play and provide offense. The defensive dman are a dying breed. All the things I described, that is what Persson does and he does it at a pretty high level. The Swedish league routinely produces high end talent who can quickly make the jump to the NHL, especially dmen.

        Now I don’t have a clue if Persson is going to make it. I also agree that there is a good chance he won’t but why is Benson so much more of a lock than him?

  • Digger

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bobbie Burger did say they were gonna start building from “within”. Can’t evaluate personal if you don’t have them under contract . Got to start somewhere. Besides, if he don’t work out, there’s always the trade for a 4th round draft pick scenario to pursue.

  • OilerFaithful.Always

    Enough with the negativity. This is a promising young prospect. The league is trending toward smaller faster skilled players. He seems to be check off all those attributes. We have an abundance of left handed defenseman. Either then klefbom we have no legit power play specialist and none yet that are right handed either then bouchard who may need another season in the minors. This guy is 24 and is in the age range where defenders start coming into there own, as historically defenders take a bit longer to develop. We probably signed him at the league minimum and I find European players tend to be more reliant on skill then grit which we could use more of on the back end. From where I’m sitting this is a good sign on a cheap contract over a short term. So little to no risk. This kid could turn out to be just what we need in another position of weakness until Bouchard is ready to go. So again I ask what’s with all the negativity? This could be a huge win for us if he translates what he’s doing now over to the nhl. So enough with the whining and look at all the positives that could come out of this with virtually no down side.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I missed the part where he was described as fast, only saw ‘ not a speedster’. Small, never played in N.A., doesn’t have elite wheels at 23 years old so unlikely to develop them, he sounds like a real gem. My faith in the oil has returned, just wait until next year!

  • ooj

    Some puck skill on the backend would be a blessing..how many times have we seen the puck go to the dmen and watch them bungle it or simply give it away killing any chance of having offensive zone time… plus the inability to get point shots through

  • kelvjn

    The oilers used to have Yohann Auvitu, who is similar sized(6′ 180lbs vs 5’11” 176lbs) and also started career from obscene places(France vs 3rd division in Swedish league) and we know how that turned out.

    9 points in 33 games was not half bad(prorated to 22points/82games), If you don’t mind bleeding more goals than he scores.

    Before Auvitu, the oilers also had another smaller offensive D in Phillipe Larsson. Same story, points production is OK if you don’t mind the negative goals differential.

    Plus, unlike the two that came before, it would be Persson’s first NA season, so there’s this additional concern with adopting his game to a smaller ice.

    • Van isl Oiler

      Kidding of course, this sounds like a good signing. Just leave him in the minors until he is “over rype”. Maybe he’ll never get there, maybe he will. As someone else says often….”we wait.”

      • kelvjn

        Overnight bussing between cities is gruesome. Young North American has no other choice if they aspires to play hockey professionally, but there are much fewer established European want to play in the AHL for any length of time.