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An Unexpected Experience For Nielsen

Thursday, 08.16.2012 / 12:00 PM / News
By Joseph Beguiristain  - FloridaPanthers.com
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An Unexpected Experience For Nielsen
Defenseman Jonatan Nielsen plays the puck against Finland at the USA hockey junior evaluation camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 7, 2012 (Getty Images)

When Swedish born defenseman Jonatan Nielsen learned that he was drafted by the Florida Panthers with the 194th overall pick this past June, he screamed…literally.

“I was sitting on my couch back home in Sweden and [I was] on the computer checking the draft picks. All of a sudden my name came up so I was pretty excited,” Nielsen recalled. “My parents were sitting right next to me so I think they got it [knew I was drafted] when I screamed.”

Nielsen is happy to be a Florida Panther, but he was surprised that he was chosen by the club. Perhaps he knew at a young age that it was destiny.

“I didn’t know [that the Panthers were interested], but I think my agent spoke to [Florida Panthers European Scout] Kent Nilsson [and my agent] just told me that he had spoke to him and it was a big surprise,” Nielsen recalled. “Actually when I was a kid I told my parents that I would play for the Florida Panthers so I can try Formula One.”

Being a huge fan of Formula One racing and Fernando Alonzo, Nielsen also had a dream of driving one day for the circuit.

Perhaps he will just stick to hockey now.

Despite being 18-years-old, the defenseman has played in Swedish leagues since 2007. This makes sense since he’s from a huge hockey family. His father, Rolf, has been a coach in the Swedish leagues for 18 seasons and his uncle, Niclas, played for eight seasons. He also has a cousin, Philip, who went undrafted but plays competitvely.

“It’s pretty cool [coming from a hockey family]. My uncle was pretty good; he was more like the big guy that would make some big hits and start some fights,” said Nielsen. “My cousin is a little bit smaller than me, pretty skilled player. He can skate.”

Nielsen’s father coached him for three games in the 2008-2009 season and the all-around defenseman admits it was a bit weird at times, but he owes a lot of his game to him.

“Of course it’s a bit weird to have your father as a coach,” said Nielsen. “[But], he is the one who taught me everything I know since I was a baby. He was always giving me tips when I was a kid.”

Last season for the Linköping J20 team of the SuperElit league, Nielsen tallied nine points (five goals and four assists) in 38 games.

Nielsen enjoyed his time in the US while at Development Camp, especially being in South Florida. He went to the beach for the very first time and saw some unexpected things.

“It’s good practice all week [the camp] and we [prospects] went to the beach,” he explained. “It was pretty nice; [we] went to Deerfield Beach [and] we saw the tornadoes, it was pretty cool.”

His play on the ice during that week caught the eye of the Panthers brass, especially of the head man, General Manager Dale Tallon who raved about his puck presence throughout. The blueliner followed that up with a weeklong tournament in Lake Placid, New York as he suited up for Sweden in exhibition games against Finland and the United States.

Following those experiences he’s back to growing his game in Sweden whether it’s playing for Linköping’s junior team or their elite team this season.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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