Sabres ink Persson

The Sabres signing frenzy continues. Enter Dennis Persson. Chosen 24th overall in 2006, the Swede gets a three-year deal... From the Sabres:
Persson (6/2/1988, 6’1”, 181 lbs.) split last season between Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League, and Nykoping of the Swedish second tier league. Persson recorded one assist and 6 PIMs in 21 games with Djurgarden, and added four points (1+3) and 14 PIMs with Nykoping. For his career Persson has one point in 30 Elite League games with Djurgarden, along with 14 points (5+9) in 72 second tier league games with Nykoping, Vasteras and Almtuna. Persson represented Sweden at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and was considered the team’s most consistent defenseman with six points (1+5) in five games.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008 ×

Bakes - Could you shed some light on Persson? His stats don't seem all that spectacular for a defenseman with offensive gifts. Does he simply need to add muscle to his frame? Or adapt a bit to better competition? Hockeynews has him ranked as the Sabres 10th highest prospect at the moment - similar to your own.

Kris Baker
Friday, June 06, 2008 ×

Once he left Vasteras, Persson struggled to get consistent SEL icetime with Djurgarden. His stats are definitely reflected in that. He thinks of himself as a puck carrier. He has the ability, but you said it correctly - he's still adjusting to playing against stronger, more mature competition.

So many people got down on him when they saw that he went to play in the second division (and when he was bypassed by fellow 19-year teammate Oscar Eklund for the WJC's), but I see it as a positive move for his development. He averaged over 7:00 a game with DIF, but that's only because he was logging anywhere between 10-12:00 in a handful of games early. Through the 21 games among an already crowed D corps, DIF picked up Ossi Vaananen, and DP ended up getting just 3-4 shifts on many nights (if he saw the ice at all). Eklund himself finished with an average TOI of a little over 5:00. Persson needed to go to a team where he could play regularly. So what if it was in HockeyAllsvenskan.

I watched him a bit at last summer's prospect camp, and liked what I saw. Good skater, with a decent reach. He put on some size since his draft day (his neck was noticeably thicker, and his shoulders filled out some). To answer your question about strength: YES, he could use another 10-12 pounds of muscle.

He'll make simple plays in his end (like a Tallinder), but he's going to need some more time. He's not going to overwhelm anyone physically, but he's got the body to block guys off. He looked like a competitor, definitely not a lazy guy at all.

He has offense on his mind. My wishes for him are to start small and build his game out as he goes. Focus on being that responsible guy in his end, who handles the speed, fills out enough to win battles, and advances the puck out with a few good strides and a crisp pass. From there, start displaying the skating and confidence to lug it more. He'll eventually pick up points by starting plays.

Given everything, I have no idea how his detractors can say that they've seen enough of him to form some of the opinions I've read. Patience could pay off here. Let's see what happens in Timra next season.