After five years of senior devalopment, Zetterberg is now heading to the “big stage” to showcase his skills. Here is a closer look at these exciting years in Zetterberg`s young career.
Henrik Zetterberg started his senior career in 1997 with Timrå in the Swedish division 1, (3rd tier league) as a 16 year old. He menaged to play in 20 games and scored a goal and 3 assists. In his draft year he saw his ice-time increase, and so did his numbers. He scored 17 goals and 14 assists in only 41 games. His great performance helped his team to move up to Allsvenskan for the 1999-00 season.
After finishing as the 41st ranked European skater by the final 1999 CSB Rankings, Henrik Zetterberg was selected by the Red Wings with theire 4th selection, 210th overall in the 1999 Entry Draft.
His rookie season in Allsvenskan was phenomenal. His two-way game and clutch goals was the main reason that Timrå moved up to Elitserien for the 2000-01 season. Zetterberg amassed 30 goals and 18 assists in 52 regular and playoff games while maintaining a +33 rating. He was also a member of the Swedish Junior National team where he and fellow Red Wings prospect Niklas Kronwall were the assistent capitans. The team included some highly touted prospects such as the “Super-Twins”, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. That didn`t bother Henrik as he continued his stellar season registering 3 goals and 5 points in 7 games and being the most consistant performer on the team.
Prior to the 2000-01 season Henrik was named to the Swedish national team, (Three Crowns) before even playing a single game in Elitserien. In his third game with the National team, Zetterberg scored his first goal, and it sure was one to remember. He came in all alone with the Russian goalie and made a revers Peter Forsberg move to get the goal. As he made his debut in the Elitserien Henrik continued to show that he was the go-to-guy as he scored the overtime winner in his first ever game in Elitserien against the reigning champions, Djurgården as a 19-year-old rookie. As the season went on Zetterberg matured and devaloped in a great pace. Timrå reached theire goal which was to stay alive in Elitserien and Zetterberg was named “Rookie of the Year” after putting up impressive numbers, 15 goals and 46 points in 47 games. He was also a member of the National team all year long where he registered 2 goals and 6 points in 17 games, including one goal and 3 assists in 7 games at the World Championships.
The 2001-02 season was very tough, but at the same time very important and developing. There were a lot of expectations heading into the season on the young Zetterberg. He was expected to lead his team and become a star on the National team, and this is one of the reasons that his numbers were reduced. But the main reason was that the opponents knew what to expect as they were playing against Timrå. If they menaged to shot down Zetterberg, than they had the game as in a little box and therefore he had two or three guys on his back all the time. But even with all the pressure, Zetterberg had his best season so far. He took his game to the next level and started to dominate even internatinal games. The best proof came in the Swedish Hockey Games as he scored 4 goals in the finales and was named the best player of the tournament. After an impressive season where he also starred in his second World Championship and at the Olympics as only one of three non-NHL player on the Swedish team, Zetterberg signed a three year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.
Zetterberg is an agile skater with impressive overall skill in all departments. He possesses phenomenal hockey sense which he uses to his advantage in all situations. He has soft hands and can stickhandle through traffic in high speed. Although not possessing a large frame, he is a very strong and well balanced player who is hard to knock of the puck. He understands the role he playes as a center and takes care of his defensive duties as well. With his phenomenal hockey sense, playmaking ability and imagination he has the ability to quarterback a power play with ease. He has also shown that he can perform well in key situations and key games on manny occasions. He will need to work on his shot and use it more often, but that will come as he adjusts to the North American style.
Henrik Zetterberg`s devalopment over the past couple of years has been phenomenal. He has gone from being a late rounder with little chance of making it to the big stage to a great player with excellent potential. He has shown that he can handle all type of hockey and that he is a big time player as his performances in the Swedish Eliteleague, the World Championships and the Olympics has shown over the last couple of years. Henrik Zetterberg has the potential to become a point-per-game fan favorite performer in the NHL.