BostonBruins.com - Linus Arnesson officially has Black & Gold in his future.
The Bruins announced on Sunday that they signed the 19-year-old defenseman to an entry-level contract.
Arnesson was Boston's first draft selection in 2013 in New Jersey, coming with the 60th pick in the second round.
Last July, he came to Boston for the first time, joining a group of prospects at the organization's annual development camp.
What the Hanviken, Sweden native knew of Boston mostly came from movies like The Town and Good Will Hunting. What he knew of the Bruins mostly came from watching their games online, and watching Patrice Bergeron stop at nothing to play through injuries in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Now, he'll start to develop more firsthand experiences.
"It's a big Original Six team that is very good every year and it's a great organization, so I was overwhelmed with good feelings when I found out that I was going to sign," Arnesson said over the phone from Sweden after signing.
"I thought that hopefully I could be signed next year or the year after that, and to sign already, the year after the draft, was a surprise for me, and a very happy surprise."
Arnesson woke up to a voicemail from his agent in Sweden, and also received a call from his American agent with good news.
"He told me that Boston wanted to speak about a contract and right away, I was really happy," he said. "So it was an different experience at first but I was really happy when he told me that I was going to get a contract."
The 'surprise' came for Arnesson after his third season with Djurgarden in the Allsvenskan league in 2013-14. There, he put up one goal and five assists through 44 games and played in six playoff games. His squad got promoted to the Swedish Hockey League for the upcoming season.
He also played a large role in helping lead Sweden to the gold-medal game at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden (Carl Soderberg's hometown) this past winter, where he recorded two assists in seven games as his squad earned silver.
Arnesson is a smooth skating, two-way defenseman who can support the offensive rush and get back quickly to start transition. He's a steady defender who can close on forwards quickly, taking away their time and space to operate.
As he matures, his focus remains on adding strength and power to his 6-foot-1, 188-pound frame. His confidence grew this season playing quality minutes for Djurgarden and will only continue to grow as he gets stronger.
Overseeing that maturation process is Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney.
The assistant GM flew overseas to watch a few of Arnesson's games in the Fall, and met him and his family for coffee while in Sweden. European scout Sven Svensson - entering his 24th season with the Bruins - joined them. He and P.J. Axelsson are the club's Sweden-based scouts.
When they met with Arnesson, it had been about three to four months since development camp and his first experiences with the organization, learning what it takes on the ice and especially off the ice to be a Boston Bruin.
Sweeney was pleased watching the defenseman in action with Djurgarden, seeing such a young player in a reliable role, being tasked with killing a penalty in the last minute of a 1-1 tie game.
“Linus’ GM spoke of his confidence upon returning from the Bruins development camp," Sweeney told BostonBruins.com after the visit. "And he seems to have carried that forward to his team in Sweden, as he is making smart decisions on the ice.”
"He saw a couple of games and gave me some feedback on those games, and he was happy with what he saw with the game, and told me what to think about," Arnesson said of Sweeney. "It was a good experience having him here."
The visit made the young defenseman feel like he was on the right track.
"They come over all the way to watch a couple of games, and have a coffee with you, so it was nice to see them remember me, and take the time to meet with me and see me, so that was really nice of them," he recounted.
On June 1, Arnesson was rewarded for his work ethic and improvement this season with his first NHL contract.
For him, it was an affirmation of the work he had put in since the first meeting with the Bruins' brass at development camp.
"First thing, the rookie camp, they met up with me about how I played and they just talked to me and told me what I need to work on back in Sweden, and that was my strength and keep working on my skating, and that I did very well in Sweden," said Arnesson.
"I thought that I developed a great deal, so I think that's why they wanted to sign me, because they wanted to show me that I worked hard and that I had a good World Juniors and got promoted with our Swedish team."
"Overall, I'm very happy with my development this season."
Arnesson has also furthered his progress by closely watching fellow countryman and Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, and by watching Bruins games online to see how the B's blueliners use the dots to defend. That's something he heard a great deal about during development camp, and brought back with him to Sweden.
As for now, the defenseman will continue to train with his team in Sweden before coming back to the Boston area for his second development camp in July. He's looking forward to what the future holds for him.
"I'm going to get in shape for the rookie camp, and then see what happens next."
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