Leaving Home Pays Off for Rakell

Saturday, 06.25.2011 / 1:19 AM / News
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Leaving Home Pays Off for Rakell
By Aaron Paitich
Special to AnaheimDucks.com

“Of course you want to go as high as possible, but you still try to stay calm the whole draft,” Rakell said. “It’s a happy ending.”
Rickard Rakell was one pick away from a potentially sleepless night.

“Good dreams,” said the Swedish forward, after being selected by the Anaheim Ducks with the last pick (30th) of the NHL Entry Draft’s first round on Friday.

Well, there are still no guarantees a first-round draft pick will sleep after an unforgettable night. Maybe he can hit the snooze a few times.

“Of course you want to go as high as possible, but you still try to stay calm the whole draft,” Rakell said. “It’s a happy ending.”

Rakell, 18, learned a lot growing up and playing in Sweden, but one of the most important decisions he made was to leave his homeland. This past season, he transplanted his life to North America – specifically Plymouth, Michigan, where he shined for the Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League.

The 6-0, 191-pound winger scored 43 points in 49 games as a rookie. More ice time and the North American style of hockey helped further his development. He would have been playing a lot less if he stayed to play in the Swedish Elite League.

“It’s done a lot for me. Just to practice every day, play in a small rink, get a lot of ice time and I think that helped me a lot instead of just staying home,” Rakell said. “Coming over here was a real good choice for me.”

“It’s done a lot for me," Rakell said of leaving his homeland. "Just to practice every day, play in a small rink, get a lot of ice time and I think that helped me a lot instead of just staying home. Coming over here was a real good choice for me.”
As a 17-year-old, Rakell did return home as the youngest member of Team Sweden at the World Junior Championships this past winter. He notched three assists in five games, which undoubtedly helped raise his NHL Draft stock. Ducks General Manager Bob Murray would agree.

“I saw him at the World Junior a whole bunch. He was a 17-year-old in the World Juniors and he did a good job there,” Murray said. “He’s a good two-way player and a smart hockey player, and he can play center or wing. We’re very happy he was still there at 30."

Rakell started playing hockey when he was four and spoke very highly of his time in Sweden. His brother, Robin, played on many teams with him and Rickard credits him as a big influence on his career. The new Ducks draft pick is considered a character player with a very high work ethic, which he attributes to his home country.

“In every camp, what they teach the most is to compete and practice hard,” said Rakell, who also likes to play tennis and golf. “You can’t be happy to be second or third. You have to strive for being No. 1 all the time.”

“Every day I’m making good progress to get close to my goal and play here."
Influencing his decision to leave Sweden was fellow countryman and Friday’s No. 2 overall draft pick (Colorado) Gabriel Landeskog. The two played and worked out together back at home. Landeskog came over to the OHL one year before, and the results spoke for themselves.

Rakell began asking Landeskog questions and the idea of coming over to North America became more and more appealing. Once the decision was made, the transition was easy.

“It was just getting out of my comfort zone. After that, it was very easy for me,” said Rakell, who stayed with a host family in Plymouth. “They took very good care of me. I felt like home right from the first week and that made it much easier.”

The move also did wonders for his dream of playing in the NHL, where hockey is more physical, faster and played on a smaller ice surface.

"He’s very intelligent and he plays more of a North American game than a European game,” Murray said. “I’m very happy about the pick."

Rakell looks up to players such as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and none other than the Hart Trophy winner, Anaheim’s own Corey Perry.

Before he’s on a line with Perry and the boys, Rakell has to work on his speed and strength first and foremost, but he hopes to don the Ducks sweater soon.

“Every day I’m making good progress to get close to my goal and play here,” Rakell said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48

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