As teams were swiftly making their selections at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 28, 2014, Viktor Arvidsson’s hopes of being drafted, let alone playing the NHL, were slowly diminishing. For three years, Arvidsson had been waiting for his name to be called, telling him he had been drafted by one of the 30 teams. In 2013, some experts had Arvidsson being selected as high as the second round. It never happened.
At last, after being passed over 744 times in the four drafts combined, the Nashville Predators selected the 5-foot-9, 172-pound winger from Skelleftea, Sweden in the fourth round (112th overall).
Arvidsson brought an impressive resume to the Predators. At the 2013 World Junior Championship, he won a silver medal for Sweden, contributing five points (four goals, one assist) in six contests. As a member of the Swedish Hockey League’s Skelleftea AIK, he won back-to-back league championships in 2013 and 2014 and was a finalist for rookie of the year in 2013.
With all the accolades, it is baffling Arvidsson was not selected earlier.
“I don’t know,” Arvidsson said in 2014 when questioned about why teams passed over him. “My size maybe? I think I’ve prove[n] I can play against big players, so I don’t think my size matters.”
Knowing Arvidsson’s potential, the Predators did not hesitate to assign him to the Milwaukee Admirals, the club’s AHL-affiliate, for development. Though Arvidsson admits the transition to the North American style of play was difficult, it did not appear so statistically. He scored 55 points (22 g, 33 a) in 70 games and was named to the 2015 AHL All-Rookie Team.
“[The transition to North American hockey] was pretty hard,” Arvidsson said in July. “It’s so much faster here. You have to make decisions right away and sometimes even before you get the puck. You have to be able to have the courage to take it to the net because that’s where [goals] happen on this type of ice surface. You have to be brave and go to the net.”
Arvidsson played in six games on call-up for Nashville last season, but entering training camp this year, he was seeking full-time employment in the NHL.
The Predators announced its opening night roster Tuesday in lead up to Thursday’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite all odds, Arvidsson is among the 23 players on the list and is slotted to play on the third line alongside center Cody Hodgson and right-winger Calle Jarnkrok. Now that he has made it to the NHL, it will be his job to remain there for the rest of his career.