February 1, 2010
Young Samuelsson’s stock keeps climbing
His father spent 17 seasons as one of the NHL's fiercest competitors - and hardest hitters.
His brother was a second-round NHL draft pick last June by the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
But just a sophomore in high school, Henrik Samuelsson is already showing that he has what it takes to fill the big shoes - er, skates - set forth by his family lineage. And he's also proving that maybe he's also got what it takes to push the family history aside and form his own legacy.
While Henrik's father, Ulf - an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes - and brother, Phil - a freshman at perennial superpower Boston College - both took up their trade on the blue line as defensemen, it's 15-year-old Henrik who's forging a new line in the family business by playing upfront for the P.F. Chang's U18 AAA team this season as a forward.
"He's definitely fit right in at the U18 level and played extremely well," said Mike DeAngelis, Samuelsson's P.F. Chang's coach. "He understands his position and how to play it. The biggest thing as a forward that we're working on is his foot speed - trying to get him a little bit faster."
Samuelsson was initially slated to play this season for the U16 team, but an early-season promotion saw him up with DeAngelis' squad.
"He showed that he was a dominant player at (U16) at the beginning of the season," DeAngelis said. "I think that it was really just getting to know his skill and ability level."
Despite an age gap of nearly four years between Samuelsson and his teammates - P.F. Chang's oldest players are approaching 19 - DeAngelis said Samuelsson has fit right in.
While most of the U18 squad had played more than two-dozen games this season as the New Year approached, Samuelsson's late jump on the season had him playing in as many as nine fewer games than his teammates at that point.
Still, Samuelsson sat fifth on the team with 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists), trailing only teammates Cody Bisbing (26 points), Trevor Cheek (23 points), Ryan Francis (21 points) and Max Vallis (20 points).
"His ability to see the ice is phenomenal, and his passing ability and shot - those are his biggies. His hands, his vision and his shot are off the charts for a kid that age. That's why he's already on an NHL scouting list to be drafted," DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis said that while the door is still open, it's already a possibility that Samuelsson doesn't return to the P.F. Chang's program next season, with offers to play Major Junior in Canada already on the table for next year.
Samuelsson's WHL rights belong to the Edmonton Oil Kings, and he attended their main camp last year.
"It's really going to be a matter of whether or not you do the home-away-from-home thing," said DeAngelis. "It's something his family is going to have to decide.
"It's all a big jump, going from U16 to 18 to Major Junior like that," DeAngelis added. "But he's a major, major prospect."