Catching up with Rangers prospect Calle Själin

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I know it has been quiet from my end the last few weeks regarding our European prospects because life got in the way and I wasn’t able to dedicate a lot of time to writing but last week I had a chance to talk to one of our very own European prospects. In a year where the focus is mostly on Nils Lundkvist (Luleå) and Lauri Pajuniemi (TPS), another prospect made the news for different reasons. 2017 fifth round pick Calle Själin moved from Leksands IF to Västerås IK.

It was an amazing feeling of course. Rangers wasn´t the club I thought it could be, but I was very happy because it´s my favourite team in NHL.

Själin on being drafted by the New York Rangers

Hockey as a teenager

After an individually successful 2016-17 season with Östersunds IK in HockeyEttan, the 3rd tier of Swedish hockey, registering 15 points in 34 games, the then 18-year old defenseman tuned in from his family’s cottage to watch the draft. Unlike many others, Själin did not make the trip to Chicago to attend the draft but on day 2 when he found out he was drafted, he couldn’t be happier. Surrounded by family, they celebrated as he saw his name appear on screen with the iconic Rangers logo next to it.

The following season he moved to Leksands and was playing at a higher level, HockeyAllsvenskan, the 2nd tier of hockey in Sweden. Splitting time between the senior team and the under20 team in SuperElit, the young defenseman had a relatively good season and he handled the step up quite well. Playing for both the u19 and u20 team during the season, there was a small chance the young defenseman would be included in the World Juniors team traveling to Buffalo but he unfortunately wasn’t named on the final roster.

The 2018-19 season started with an unfortunate injury during practice which sidelined him for the remainder of 2018. When he finally joined the team he was on the 2nd pairing, playing a bigger role than expected, in a 3-2 win over Almtuna, against fellow Rangers prospect Jakob Ragnarsson. He would end up playing a total of 24 games until he was sidelined again with a concussion late in the season. His team won promotion to the SHL, meaning that for the 2nd season in a row, Själin would jump to a higher level. The promotion gained against their biggest rival Mora IK was an experience to remember for the young defenseman.

That was a really nice experience. The biggest in my career so far. I think Leksand belongs to SHL, it´s a big club in Sweden.

Själin on winning promotion to the SHL last season with Leksands IF

Västerås and the Rangers

Sjalin

This season he played a large portion of the games early on, but the team felt he could benefit from a loan to Västerås and last week he was sent to the team best known for producing arguably the best Swedish defenseman of all time, and childhood hero of Själin, Nicklas Lindström. When he made his debut for the club last week, it was against Mora. Not only his old team’s biggest rival as mentioned earlier but also the team where Olof Lindbom was in net.

I had several favourite players, one of them was Nicklas Lidström who is from Västerås IK where I play now.

Playing for the team of his childhood favorite, Nicklas Lidström, is special to Själin

It brought up an interesting topic which I always am curious about.” How often do NHL affiliated prospects talk to each other?”. Do they even follow the draft to an extent where they are aware of it? So I asked the question and I really liked the answer. Själin told me he talks to some of the Swedish Ranger prospects regularly. The connection with Nils Lundkvist goes beyond the fact that both were drafted by the same team. Själin’s older brother Pontus plays for Luleå and is Lundkvist’s teammate. With the way the Rangers are currently trying to improve their communication with prospects, and be more involved in their development, it was good to hear the prospects themselves talk to each other. It’s also good to know that the Rangers organization stays in touch with everyone. They really are invested in the development of everyone of their prospects and they offer their expertise and assistance wherever it’s needed.

I talk to them monthly. Sometimes every week.

On his communication with the Rangers

The future

When asked who he compares himself to as a player, the answer is quick. “OIiver Ekman-Larsson”, he said. That by no means points to Själin thinking he will be at that level but the comparison is mostly based on the style of hockey they play. With the vacanies on the left side of the Rangers blueline in the near future, Själin could be part of the solution. His rights expire in 2021 and that may push the Rangers to make a decision as early as 2020 whether or not they deem Själin a legitimate prospect and offer him an entry level contract. The pipeline in terms of defensive prospects has, in my opinion, never been this promising, with K’Andre Miller, Zac Jones, Matthew Robertson, Yegor Rykov, Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, Jakob Ragnarsson, Nico Gross and Själin on the left. The competition will be fierce.

For now, he will focus on Västerås and helping the team win promotion to the SHL. The team last played in the SHL in the 1999-2000 season but was demoted 3 levels due to bankrupcy. They found their way up to Allsvenskan in 2002 but since then they have not been able to get over that final hurdle. After 30 games, they are in 5th place in a year where both Mora (relegated last year from SHL) and AIK (regular season winner last year) are occupying the bottom spots in the league. It has been a weird season but with a bit of luck, Calle Själin may find himself celebrating promotion to SHL 2 years in a row.

My final question is always related to a player’s number. Number 51 is the number he prefers and the number he has used when playing with Östersund before he was drafted. After using number 5 for 2 years with Leksands IF, he was given his old number by his new team.

I would like to thank both Calle Själin and the Västerås organization for making this possible.

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