Steve Yzerman wants to field a competitive team, and to that end, took a flier on an undrafted European player.
The Detroit Red Wings signed Pontus Andreasson, a 23-year-old left-handed-shooting forward out of Sweden, on Monday to a one-year deal.
Signing an undrafted European hasn’t yielded great results for the Wings in recent years, but there’s little risk compared to the potential for reward. Andreasson (5 feet 10, 183 pounds) had 18 goals and 20 assists in 52 regular-season games with Luleå and 13 points in 13 playoff games. Luleå lost to Farjestad, 3-0, in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series last week.
The Wings hope Andreasson fares better than Mathias Brome. Brome was an undrafted free agent out of Sweden who, after posting 17 goals and 26 assists in 52 SHL games in 2019-20, was signed to a one-year deal. His arrival was delayed by the pandemic till the 2020-21 season. Though he played at times on a line with Dylan Larkin and was used on the power play, Brome produced only one goal and one assist in 26 games, and there was no interesti in retaining him.
Brome has spent the past season playing in Switzerland.
In prior years, the Wings also have taken a flier on European free agents including defenseman Libor Sulak and goaltenders Harri Sateri and Matěj Machovský. None made an impact.
The Wings have 10 forwards under contract through next season. Jonatan Berggren, a second-round pick from the 2018 draft who had 21 goals among 64 points in 70 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, is expected to challenge for a job in Detroit next season. Yzerman, though, said a few days after the season ended that he won’t hold spots open for prospects — they have to prove they belong in the lineup, like Lucas Raymond did last fall.
Now there’s a chance Andreasson grabs one of the open spots.
Andreasson, at least, should feel at home in the Motor City: According to Swedish daily Expressen, he worked part-time in a Volvo plant to help make ends meet earlier in his hockey career.
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