In the autumn of 2010, a 19-year-old Swede joined the New Jersey Devils. At that time the Social Network and Easy A were favorites in theater, and Katy Perry introduced the world to California Gurls. Youngster Jacob Josefson was drafted 20th overall by the Devils in the 2009 NHL Draft and played his first career game a few short months later.
Years from now, if Josefson decides to publish his memoirs it should be called the Curious Case of Jacob Josefson. Throughout his NHL career, he was never able to reach his full potential as a player. The 6-foot-1 forward would spend several seasons combating multiple injuries fighting to play a full season.
“The first few years, well, basically every year I had some kind of issue, and often there were some pretty weird injuries,” said Josefson of his NHL career. “Broken collarbones, broken wrists, broken thumbs. Every time I felt like I was making progress, there was some kind of injury that held me back. I don’t want to use that as an excuse, but it was like starting all over from scratch every time I got hurt.”
Part one of his memoirs focuses on his time in New Jersey. Readers become introduced to our young and hungry protagonist looking to earn a consistent roster spot. Over time he will discover his biggest opponent is not wearing an opposing uniform, but it is his own body and will that become the biggest obstacle of his career.
Beginning in New Jersey
Josefson made his NHL debut on Oct. 15, 2010. He finished the game with 15:15 of ice time and one shot on goal. He succumbed to an injury a couple of weeks later and needed surgery to repair a ligament tear in his thumb. He recovered and came back to score his first NHL goal against the New York Islanders on March 12, 2011.
Injuries became a prominent storyline during his time with the Devils. Early in the 2011-12 season, he crashed into the boards, which resulted in a broken right clavicle. Again he underwent surgery and began his road to recovery. He returned to the ice only to suffer another injury on April 3, 2012. Josefson collided with Jay Pandolfo resulting in a broken left wrist. He returned to the ice and appeared in the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final, registering one point.
For the next five seasons, he would be in and out of the Devils’ lineup due to various injuries and concussions. The most games he appeared in a single season were 62 during the 2014-15 campaign. Towards the end of his tenure with the Devils, fans saw one aspect of his game where he truly excelled. At one point the Devils went 0-for-18 in the shootout. Running out of options, head coach Pete DeBoer asked his players who should partake.
“He’s (Josefson) been really good in the shootout in practice,” DeBoer said. “Patrik (Elias) keeps bringing up his name and said that he has a knack of scoring in practice. He threw Jo’s name up there, saying Jo’s been good.” (from ‘WATCH: Here’s the shootout goal that ended Devils’ 0-for-18 drought’, NJ.com, 10/31/14)
His time in New Jersey came to an end as the Devils decided against re-signing him. Sadly he was never able to evolve into the player the organization hoped for. Injuries plagued him, and there are some Devils fans who are still waiting for his break-out season.
Brief Stint in Buffalo
Part two of his memoirs began on July 1, 2017, when Josefson signed a one-year contract worth $700,000 with the Buffalo Sabres. He may have been in a different uniform, but the story remained the same. Injuries kept the Swede out of the lineup, and he only appeared in 39 games. Even though he only scored two goals and finished with four points, he again found a way to shine in the shootout.
“I have no idea,” said Josefson when asked what makes him so good in the shootout. “I guess (I have) good confidence there. The coach has been able to put me out in those situations. Once you score a couple you get confident in that situation. It’s been fun. I like being out there for the shootout.”
His NHL career concluded with his time in Buffalo, finishing with 64 points in 315 games. The writing was on the wall that his time in North America has come to an end. He was newly married and his wife gave birth to their first child. A decision was made and he signed a four-year deal with Djurgården of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
Calling Sweden Home
Returning home to Sweden meant a new opportunity for Josefson and a much-needed fresh start. During his first season in the SHL, he suffered a torn urethra after being cut by a skate. He concluded his first season with Djurgården registering 35 points in 40 games. That season he was named the most valuable player of the season as decided by the players in the league.
The next season he was named the captain of Djurgården and still wears the “C” on his sweater. Unfortunately, he has since been sidelined with post-concussion symptoms, and there is no timetable for a return. While he is off the ice he spends time with his wife and two young children.
Once upon a time, Josefson was compared to John Madden and Nicklas Backstrom. His injuries proved to be too much for him during his career in the NHL. Through all the ups and downs he was never able to find a successful stride but managed to provide Devils fans with memorable shootout moments. Part three of his memoirs is still being written, and we can only hope the 30-year-old can one day overcome his injuries and health issues to continue his story.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and is a credentialed correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.