2001-born defenseman Emil Malysjev had a pretty good set up in Sweden. He was developing in the vaunted HV71 system where many talented Swedish players had played before.
The six-foot-three, 190-pound blue liner could have kept moving up the system and possibly onto the professional club.
To hear him tell it, they have quite the set up there in Jönköpoing, Sweden.
“It was great. They are a great organization. They have a great pro team and system there. They have four rinks in one complex. They have pretty much anything you could ask for. I liked it a lot,” Malysjev said.
So why would the left-handed d-man, leave for Canada?
Well it’s not as if his family hadn’t left for another country before. Both of his parents are Russian and he was born in Sweden.
The defenseman saw a better shot at the NHL through the WHL and the Saskatoon Blades, who took him in the first round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft, 23rd overall.
“I wanted to try something new. I wanted to come to Canada and come play on the smaller ice. I wanted to see how the game is played here and see if I will be good or I will be bad. I wanted to come here, learn as much as I can and try to do my best.”
But the adjustment to the game in North America is not an easy one, especially for defensemen, who find themselves having to react to a very different style of play.
“It was really hard. The game here is a lot faster. The players are stronger and there are more penalties as well. I am getting better and better and getting used to it. Now I’m pretty comfortable.”
The native of Uppsala, Sweden believes that not just the games, but practices against top NHL Draft prospects Kirby Dach and Nolan Maier have helped him. Those are two of the best at their positions in the world in Emil’s age group.
“I practice with both Nolan and Kirby everyday. We push each other and I think we each get a little better everyday.”
That is showing on his stats page too as he scored his first WHL goal on November 30th against the Kamloops Blazers. He has eight points in 31 games for the 20-10-3-0 Blades.
The d-man who speaks Russian, English and Swedish and who moved across the Atlantic Ocean is getting noticed by more and more scouts too. He was rated a “C” prospect in the most recent NHL Central Scouting rankings.
If he does hear his name at the NHL Draft in Vancouver this June, that move will have been well worth it.