Christoffer Ehn is an NHL rookie from Sweden, but the Detroit Red Wings forward is the first to admit that’s about all he has in common with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson.
Those two will compete for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. As a fourth-line player with one goal in 37 games, Ehn competes merely to maintain his spot in the league.
“Yeah, maybe I’m not the same type of player but I’m working hard every day and trying to earn my spot here,” Ehn told Mlive.com. “That’s about it.
Regardless, Ehn takes great pride in seeing how two fellow Swedes have engineered such a seamless transition into the world’s best hockey league as teenagers.
“It’s so fun to see them doing so well,” Ehn said. “It really shows, too, that the Swedish League holds a high quality. This year, there are some guys coming straight into teams and doing well.
“Players like Dahlin, it’s just good for Swedish hockey, I think in general, to see that it’s possible to make that fast transition even though it’s a different style of game and everything.”
Ehn and Dahlin were childhood friends and teammates in Frolunda and he’ll get to see his buddy up close Saturday afternoon, as the Wings open a three-game road trip at Buffalo against Ehn and the Sabres.
“We played together for three years and we grew up kind of on the same street back home in Linkoping,” Ehn said. “I’ve known him since he was a kid so it’s so fun to see him doing so well.
“He has been really good. Especially a lot of people doubted his defense and I think he has showed with his skating and size, just how he moves and the poise he has, that he’s able to play the two sides of the puck and it’s only going to get better because he’s going to get stronger and he’s going to get more experience, too.
“He’s a special player.”
Ehn isn’t the only Swedish wing who is impressed by the work of Dahlin, the 2018 first overall pick in the NHL entry draft.
“When we played them I thought he was pretty impressive,” Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of Dahlin. “To have that poise at that age, it’s pretty impressive. It’ll be exciting to keep watching him.
“He’s had a really good year so far, and I think we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to his potential.”
Fellow Swedish defenseman Jonathan Ericsson ramped up the praise to the stratosphere on NHL rearguards when he spoke of Dahlin’s work.
“He’s not a flashy guy out there,” Ericsson said. “He’s more of a (Nicklas) Lidstrom type. He does it right, good positioning, smooth skater, gets the puck through, good passes.
“I know he’s got some flashy side to him, too but he doesn’t play like that. I think he’s just gonna keep growing and growing. It’s his first year, a learning year for him basically. It’s a big step obviously, but he’s doing really well.”
Ericsson was equally effusive in his praise of Pettersson’s work.
“That’s crazy,” Ericsson said. “The guy is like 170 pounds and he just knows how to stay away from trouble. An unbelievable player. He’s been - I’m very impressed with him. I just keep being impressed.
“He doesn’t just have one night when he scores a couple of goals. He just keeps doing it. That’s been very impressive I think.”
Follow me on Twitter @asktheduffer