Oates sees potential in Sjogren

Oates sees potential in Sjogren
October 22, 2012, 7:30 pm
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Sweden's Mattias Sjogren, left, Russia's Ivan Vishnevskii, center, and Dmitry Kalinin vie for a puck during their Channel One Cup ice hockey match in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011.

(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev))

The Capitals had big expectations for Mattias Sjogren when they signed him to a two-year, $1.8 million free-agent contract in the summer of 2011.
 
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound center was coming off a strong showing with Sweden in the World Championships and Capitals general manager George McPhee believed Sjogren could compete for the role of third- or fourth-line center.
 
But when Mathieu Perreault outplayed Sjogren in last year’s training camp, Sjogren began the season in Hershey and abruptly walked out on the team on Nov. 30, returning to Sweden.
 
McPhee didn’t take kindly to Sjogren’s decision, saying, “If you’re going to quit on us you might as well go.”
 
Today, Sjogren is back in Hershey, trying to prove to interim head coach Adam Oates that he belongs in the NHL. Through four games Sjogren has one goal on four shots and is a minus-2.
 
“I can see what people like about him and I can see he wants it,” Oates said of the 24-year-old Swede. “He wants to improve. He’s a big body. He needs to learn a couple things about the game and hopefully we have time to pass it along, but there’s a lot of potential there.”
 
Oates said that for someone his size, Sjogren could be better in the faceoff circle and that he hopes to spend some time working with him in that area.
 
Oates also said he’d like to see a little more from top forward prospect Stan Galiev, who has one assist, no goals on six shots and is a minus-2 in his first four games as a pro. Galiev, 20, was taken by the Caps in the third round of the 2010 draft [86th overall] and led the Quebec League with 34 points in 17 playoff games last spring.
 
“There are moments I’d like to see more, but he’s still a very a young kid in a new environment,” Oates said. “The pace of play is a little more physical than he’s used to.
 
“People don’t understand that quite enough. When you get traded or when you go to a new city, there are a lot of other factors that contribute before a guy plays good hockey. I didn’t play good hockey until my fifth year pro, until I got to St. Louis.”
 
For the record, Oates managed “just” 245 points in his first 280 games as a pro. And after arriving in St. Louis and being introduced to Brett Hull he notched 286 points in 195 games with the Blues. He finished his NHL career with 1,420 points, 16th on the NHL’s all-time list and enough to get him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 12 in Toronto.