Forward Victor Ejdsell had just wrapped up a 52-game season — which included two playoff games — with his team in the Swedish Hockey League. The next thing he knew, Ejdsell was boarding a plane bound for the United States.
By the time Ejdsell arrived to play with the Blackhawks in March, he was running solely on adrenaline.
“My body was tired,” Ejdsell recalled Monday.
Despite the fatigue, coach Joel Quenneville could tell there was something special with the 6-5, 214-pound Swedish left wing, who posted just one assist in six games with the Hawks last season.
After the season, Ejdsell was shipped to Rockford as the IceHogs were preparing for the postseason.
“The reality [of how tired I was] kind of came there and knocked me out there for a while,” Ejdsell said. “But I kind of got back and into the game more in the playoffs with Rockford. And I felt better and better with every game that I played in.”
He also looked better.
Ejdsell tallied just one point in the five regular-season games he played with Rockford. But once the Calder Cup playoffs rolled around, Ejdsell found his element, posting seven goals and five assists in 13 games.
“It was huge for me to come in and play in that many games,” Ejdsell said. “And it was the perfect opportunity for me to get used to everything.”
Ejdsell, whom the Hawks acquired when they traded right wing Ryan Hartman to the Predators in February, has been playing left wing on a line with center Artem Anisimov and Dylan Sikura. He also played on the second power-play unit Monday.
“That feels really good [to play with Anisimov], and that’s a boost for my confidence,” Ejdsell said. “I’m just trying to do my thing out there and play my game and see where that takes me.”
Quenneville’s biggest concern with Ejdsell is whether he’ll be able to handle the NHL’s speed.
“Victor is a big-body guy that’s pretty handy with the puck, has a tremendous shot, sees plays well for a big man,” Quenneville said. “The pace is what we want to make sure he’s ready for and the quick movement, but he certainly gives us with his size a different look in some areas that we don’t mind along the wall.”
But Ejdsell believes he can handle it.
“[Trying] to keep the speed with my legs and be more explosive and be strong along the boards,” Ejdsell said, “that’s probably the main key of my game.”
NOTES: The Hawks ran power-play drills for the first time in camp, and one notable player was missing. Artem Anisimov, who led the team with 11 power-play goals last season, didn’t participate.
The first group consisted of forwards Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz and defenseman Duncan Keith. The second unit was forwards Dylan Sikura, Victor Ejdsell, Brandon Saad and Chris Kunitz and defenseman Erik Gustaffsson.
† Goalie Corey Crawford returned to the ice for the third time in four days. The half-hour solo session with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite focused on movement in the crease. Quenneville said Crawford has been responding positively to the workouts, but it’s still uncertain when he’ll be able to practice with the team.