Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup is on the cusp of something great in the USHL. The big left winger is the top scorer on the Fargo Force, who are currently locking horns with the Youngstown Phantoms with the Clark Cup on the line. That’s giving scouts one more chance to look at the Danish product.
This isn’t the first year of draft eligibility for Schmidt-Svejstrup; he’s a 1998 birthday. But after a breakout season with the Force, he’s catching the eyes of NHL teams.
“He’s a natural goal-scorer,” said one scout. “Goes to the right areas and I like the lanes and routes he takes. He still needs to develop physically.”
College should provide that opportunity for the Dane, who has a great 6-foot-2 frame to build on. He’s heading to the University of Maine next season and spending three or four years in the same place would be a nice change of pace for Schmidt-Svejstrup.
At 14, he was ripping the Danish under-17 circuit for 48 points in just 14 games. The next year, he decamped for North America, playing for the Selects Hockey Academy while attending the affiliated South Kent prep school in Connecticut. There, his teammates included fellow 2018 draft prospects Joel Farabee and Mathias Emilio Pettersen.
After two years in Connecticut, Schmidt-Svejstrup did a year with the Boston Jr. Bruins of the USPHL, followed by his first USHL campaign with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Offense was hard to come by with the Saints and the youngster was moved down to the NAHL mid-season, where he was a point-per-gamer with the Coulee Region Chill. This year, he was back in the USHL with Fargo, where he took his game to new heights.
You’d think all that movement would be jarring for a kid from Europe, but Schmidt-Svejstrup always brings the right attitude.
“I honestly don’t really mind it,” he said. “Hockey players like hockey players, so it’s pretty easy to get along with your new teammates.”
Especially when you can fill the net like he can. Schmidt-Svejstrup tied for sixth in league goal-scoring this year with 26 markers, made all the more impressive by the fact he only played 40 of 60 games due to an injury and world junior duty with Denmark in Buffalo. So what was the key to his success?
“Shooting mentality,” he said. “I’ve been shooting the puck a lot and I’m playing with guys that can put the puck on my stick, which makes it a little easier as well."
This was Schmidt-Svejstrup’s final year of world junior eligibility and he made it count with the game-winning shootout goal over Belarus that saved Denmark from possible relegation. Setting the table for next year’s team was important for him.
“When we were in Grand Forks for the U18s two years ago we lost in the shootout and got relegated,” he said. “That wasn’t a great feeling letting those next guys down. Obviously winning is the most fun in the world, so this was great.”
Back in the USHL, the good times have kept rolling in the playoffs. Schmidt-Svejstrup leads the team in scoring with 11 points in 12 games and are tied 1-1 in the final series against Youngstown. Neither the Force or Phantoms have ever won the Clark Cup, so this will be an exciting one to watch. It will also be intriguing to see what happens with Schmidt-Svejstrup in the draft. It really seems like he is a late bloomer and college will give him the time in the weight room he needs to get even better.
His travels in North America have been quite prodigious in the past five years and he’s not done yet. Schmidt-Svejstrup still goes back to Denmark in the summers, but his English is accent-free already, something that prompted some gentle teasing from him world junior teammates.
“I know,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been over here too long.”
Ah, but this is just the beginning for the talented youngster.