As summer kicks in there’s little going on during the off-season as of yet for the B-Sens so I wanted to put up some article’s continuing the B-SenSeries Profiles in the next coming months. Astonishing, I haven’t put together one yet on one of the best defenseman the organization has in Fredrik Claesson so let’s hop to it.
Binghamton Senators’ defenseman Fredrik Claesson is emerging as one of the best blue liner’s Binghamton has to offer as the 21-year-old Swede is entering his third season for the Senators that has raised the bar with his consistent positional play and making a mark in the AHL with his exceptional hard work. The 6 foot, 205 lb left shooting blue liner blocked shots and caused havoc parked in front of the net that is key for Claesson’s success as he’s more of a stay home type of player with little risks being taken and keeping his game simple. He was drafted by the Senators in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL draft, 126th overall.
From the SEL to the AHL
In 2010 through 2012, Claesson played two seasons with Djurgårdens of the Swedish Elite League and was the youngest d-man on the team while playing with ex-B-Sens’ teammate and current Ottawa Senators’ forward Mika Zibanejad. Although the club didn’t fare very well ending in sixth and tenth place respectively in the 12 team league, it was good experience in advancing his game. On the bright side, he helped Sweden earn its first gold medal since 1981 playing at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship ending a 31 year drought as Zibanejad scored the overtime game winner over Russia. Fredrik played in all six games while registering no points.
Claesson signed a three-year entry-level deal in ’12 with the Senators organization and played his first games in North America for Binghamton in 2012-’13 season. The 19-year-old rookie scored 3 goals and had 8 helpers in 70 games with a +4. It took a little time to get adjusted to his surroundings on the ice as well as off, but his play was helped along with Luke Richardson and Steve Stirling in giving him confidence during the transition. He started the most games on the second pairing with fellow rookie Chris Wideman and finished on the third unit with veteran Brett Lebda. (Remember him?)
Second Season Sees Results
Last season the Stockholm, Sweden native played in all of Binghamton’s games with the exception of one, receiving a one game suspension with his check to the head to St. John’s John Albert in March. He finished with 3 goals and 26 assists with a +37, tied with Vincent LoVerde of the Manchester Monarchs in the +/- ratio for second place in the AHL, and at one point was the league leader in that category. Playing along side with the likes of Mike Sdao, Tyler Ekford and Codi Ceci, finishing on the second unit with newcomer Alex Grant towards the end.
“I’m growing a bit (as a player), and I’ve been working out hard,” Claesson added. “I’m just trying to be calm and make the right plays, be a little (bit of a) leader.”
Claesson would go on saying to the Ottawa Citizen earlier this year and could see an ‘A’ patched on his jersey for the B-Sens next season.
In that second season his physical game picked up a notch with some thunderous hits as he’s not afraid to take the body. Most notable, however, was his +/- ratio, which really captured some eyes. That’s a big improvement over his previous +4 his rookie season. He’s also developed to be a reliable penalty kill specialist with Richardson sending him out without any hesitation, being a man down or two wouldn’t matter, out doing the job as you’ll quite often find #3 on the ice for most five on three shorthanded situations. On the offensive side, let’s face it, Fredrik is not going to put up huge number’s, but his shot is formidable from the blue line and has a good outlet pass whiched helped spike his assists over the previous year.
The Borowiecki vs Claesson debate
There was some early chit-chat from the Senator fans about the chance of the popular young Claesson getting a sniff in the NHL for Ottawa but it didn’t happen as perhaps the upcoming season will yield better results. However, I’m not going to speculate on who’s ready or not, whether it’s Claesson’s opportunity or Mark Borowiecki‘s hand being forced by his one way deal. In which player responds better between the two is debatable as both offer a different element to the rink and are just as close to being ready for full-time work in the NHL.
On the flip side, with that real chance of not only one, but both players up in Ottawa, that’ll leave a significant gap on the blue line in Binghamton next season as someone has to step up to plug-in those holes. That’s one of the reasons it’s so rewarding in watching players develop in the AHL. You see some of them eventually end up in the NHL in live play or on TV and reflect back to where it all began in a small city in Upstate, N.Y., and start the process all over again with new potential’s filling in.
As for now, enjoy the warm weather!
*Cover photo and inserts courtesy of Alicia Strauch.