Sweden natives Fabian Zetterlund and Jesper Boqvist were both drafted by the Devils in 2017, so they were a natural pair when the team held a ping-pong tournament during the team’s development camp over the summer. Zetterlund was great. Boqvist was not – and Zetterlund wasn’t afraid to bust the chops of his potential future teammate.
Ping-pong skills aside, Zetterlund had a solid summer showing what he could bring to the Devils down the line. Taken after Nico Hischier and Boqvist in 2017, the third-round right winger possesses plenty of skill, speed and grit. At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, Zetterlund is tough to knock off the puck. As he showed during the NHL Prospects Challenge in September in Buffalo, he can maintain possession and win battles along the boards. He managed to find the net in the first game of the rookie tournament when he tucked a wrister from the slot under the crossbar against the youngsters from the Buffalo Sabres. Aside from his goal, Zetterlund was active at both ends of the ice and stood out as one of the Devils’ better prospects.
And if you need any more evidence of his strength, Zetterlund displayed plenty during the team’s development camp in Newark in July. He benched 265 pounds, so if and when he’s ready to make the move to the NHL, he shouldn’t have any issues with the league’s physicality. Zetterlund combines that strength with speed and agility on the ice. Like other prospects within the organization, Zetterlund has the quickness to push the pace and make opponents chase him.
Zetterlund will play with Farjestad in the SHL in Sweden this season, so he has at least one more year before he’s developing in the AHL or potentially making a push for an NHL job. He should get the chance to shine at the world juniors this winter after potting a pair of goals for Sweden at the 2018 WJC.
The Devils have restocked their prospect pool in the four NHL drafts since Ray Shero took over as GM in 2015. Those prospects should pay dividends in the coming years, and Zetterlund will have the chance to make an impact down the line.
This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.