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A glimpse into Canucks prospect Melvin Fernström’s whirlwind week

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Photo credit:NHL.com
Dave Hall
6 days ago
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It’s been nearly four years of the Vancouver Canucks enjoying a close-knit relationship with the Swedish Hockey League’s Örebro HK, with the two clubs intertwined at the hip with the development of two crucial prospects.
 
On June 29th, 2024, that relationship received an extension when the Canucks drafted Melvin Fernström, yet another installment of the Swedish club’s pipeline.
Born in Bålsta, Sweden, he has spent the past two seasons thriving under the Örebro system as a prolific offensive contributor. Most recently, he led the U20 circuit in goals (31) and finished third in points (63) last season.
Overall, while wearing the red and black uniform, he has amassed 54 goals and 119 points in 99 games across three tiers of hockey — U18, U20, and men’s leagues. Last season saw him slide into six SHL games as an 18-year-old, including all three playoff matches in which he averaged 9:49 of ice time.
The reality of hearing his name called in Vegas by the Canucks was one of shock, but Fernström referred to having a “good feeling” about his chances leading to the pick.
The newest Canuck already had an established relationship with two of the club’s top prospects, having crossed paths with Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Elias Pettersson (D) on the ice in Örebro. With Vancouver on his radar, he mentioned that he had checked in with both with questions about the organization. “I played with Elias Pettersson and [Jonathan] Lekkerimäki, so I’ve talked to them a bit.”
With the draft in his rearview, Fernström is now fresh off his first NHL Development Camp. The Swedish prospect spent a week immersed in tailored on and off-ice development and getting his first taste of the Canucks’ organizational structure and culture. “It’s been very fun. Learning new people and new stuff on the ice and some stuff off the ice, also,” he shared about his experience at the camp.
Navigating through a whirlwind week, his focus for the camp was simply to take it all in and soak in the wealth of knowledge around him. “Yes, to learn much new stuff around the ice. Learn to take advantage of these coaches and all the stuff around.”
Throughout the week, he linked up with a new soon-to-be teammate and fellow countryman, Tom Willander. Both are expected to represent Sweden in the Summer World Junior Showcase later this month.
Willander, a now two-year veteran of Development Camp, took the new recruit under his wing, helping him navigate the new environment. Fernström spoke highly of Willander’s guidance throughout the week. “He talks to me a lot and helps me and shows me around and all this stuff,” Fernström said.
The Swedish influence at the camp did not stop there, as Swedish hockey legends, the Sedin twins, were on the ice running drills. The young forward expressed his excitement about learning from them, saying, “Yeah, that’s very cool. I take a moment and learn from them.”
With a strong showing in camp, It’s evident what propelled the Canucks’ decision to draft him with their first pick (third round) of their 2024 draft.
Todd Harvey, the Canucks’ director of amateur scouting, praised his newest recruit immediately following the pick. “We like the way he plays a good two-way game,” he told Canucks.com. “He goes to the spots to score goals. He’s the kind of kid that has a good brain and you can see it with how he gets to the dirty areas and is very detailed with his approach in the offensive zone,” Harvey said.
Whether through various drills or game action, his offensive creativity was on full display all week at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre — none more entertaining than a three-assist performance in a 4-4 intersquad scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. It was here, in front of fans, where he put that creative brain on display.
Finding fellow draftee Riley Patterson, Fernström garnered “oohs and aahs” from the crowd with an incredibly cheeky and creative behind-the-back pass from his skates.
Further to that, he made a few smart plays with the puck and looked right at home amongst his fellow Canuck prospects. Perfect? No. But right at home in his first audition.
Although he had three helpers in the game, it was his shot that had impressed for much of the week. On several occasions, he showcased his ability to pick his spots with his shot, delighting the crowd with his knack for placing pucks under the bar or popping the bottle.
Being drafted on a Saturday afternoon in Vegas and arriving in Vancouver for camp on Monday morning, the forward’s initial skate showed some rust — as did most skaters.
Player Development Coach Mikael Samuelsson noted, “He’s one of the guys who hadn’t skated before this week, as he was concentrating on the off-ice. He was rusty on Monday.” However, Samuelsson, who has watched the player extensively as a Örebro product, is a clear fan of his game. “You can see he is talented, always has his head up and is actually strong on the puck too,” Samuelsson added.
While his skill is still raw, he carries strong upside to be an offensive contributor in some capacity down the road. From here, he will return to Sweden to prepare for the Showcase in Plymouth, USA, in late July, hoping to be one of the few Swedes to represent his country this winter at the World Juniors.
From there, he’ll look to secure a full-time spot in the SHL, following in Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s footsteps as a prominent offensive contributor in Sweden.
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