Jackson was drafted 37th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2005. The parties could not come to terms in 2007 and Jackson returned to the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds without a pro contract. The Lightning signed the free agent this summer, after he played an overage year.
With the AHL Norfolk Admirals stocked at defense, Jackson played in only 16 AHL games this season, with one assist and a -2. He was sent to the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves on December 27 and returned today.
In his third game with the Sea Wolves, Jackson scored the game-winning goal on a power-play shot from the point. Hockey’s Future spoke with Jackson moments later.
HF: Aren’t you supposed to be a defensive defenseman?
SJ: (laughs) I dunno, they give me a lot of opportunities on the power play so it helps. If they put you out there, a lot of it’s confidence with me. I think I can get points, but until I get there it’s a little tough. I have to thank my coaches for giving me the opportunity there.
HF: Is confidence a reason you were sent down here?
SJ: I think it’s a big part. I wasn’t playing a lot up there [in Norfolk]. And a lot of the troubles I was having up there was to do with confidence. I could play well in certain spots but then I’d make big mistakes. If I come down here and slow it down, relax, and start from the bottom, I think I can help myself if I get back up there again.
HF: Do you feel relaxed here, are you fitting in well?
SJ: Yeah, these guys are great here. My first couple games were pretty rough with the Christmas break and not playing for a while before. It took me a little bit to get back in. I was happy the coach stuck with me because I had a few rough shifts, but it’s getting really good, the guys are really helping me.
HF: What was hardest about the transition to pro hockey for you?
SJ: Ah, I think so much of it’s positioning. They talk about how much bigger and faster the guys are, but everyone’s so much smarter. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, if you’re not really focused every single shift, the guys are gonna be behind your back more than outmuscling you. Even I found myself here [with Mississippi] – if I don’t focus every shift, it’s gonna bite you in the back.
HF: Are you using your size as much as they’d like you to?
SJ: I hope so (laughs). That’s always been part of my game so I want to keep that up. Everyone says if you use your size, you’re gonna create room for yourself and make everything else easier.
HF: You were teammates with Riku Helenius in Seattle. How well did you get to know him and what kind of teammate is he?
SJ: He’s a great teammate. He was really different off the ice than on. I lived with him for a year. He’s a really down to earth guy, pretty quiet. Most Europeans I’ve met are pretty off the wall, but he was really quiet. When he got on the ice, he was one of the hardest workers out there and was really competitive.
HF: For a Finn, he seems like a big talker though.
SJ: Yeah, his English is really good. It was nice – I wasn’t too sure when I was living with him how the conversations would go but he is actually really good.
HF: Do you think this year has been kind of hard on him?
SJ: I think so, no one ever like to get bounced around like that. But as long as he’s playing, that’s the biggest thing. I’m sure he’d rather jump around from team to team as long as he’s playing. It’s tough being in the stands, especially for a goalie his age. They really want to get games for them.
HF: Last year you played with Jeremy Boyer, eligible for the 2009 draft (ranked #143 by ISS). What do you think of him?
SJ: He’s come a long way. He was a pretty small skinny guy when he first came in as a 15-year-old, but he was quick and he really uses that to his advantage. He keeps his feet moving, he’s good at getting the puck and getting to the net. I think he’s been doing well this year back in Seattle and I hope he does well in the draft.
HF: How do you feel about living in the south?
SJ: It’s nice. I’m obviously from the opposite end of the continent. The people are awesome, they’re really nice. The weather is obviously unbelievable. We’re in two feet of snow and freezing weather at home right now, so it’s pretty nice.