Growing up in Sweden, Detroit Red Wings’ defense prospect John Wikstrom always maintained the same goal.
“The dream has always been there and will always stay. To play in the NHL is of highest importance to me,” said Wikstrom recently.
As a youngster, his primary goal was to reach Sweden’s TV-Pucken, a countrywide tournament for junior hockey players. And as Wikstrom’s hockey career progressed, larger goals became realized.
Drafted in the fifth round by Detroit in 1997, Wikstrom spent several years toiling within the Lulea organization in Sweden. Wikstrom’s years with the club were frustrating, and he was never given the opportunity to become a regular in the Swedish Elite League. He saw most of his ice time with Lulea’s junior squad.
Wikstrom is a hulking defenseman, standing 6’4″ and weighing 205 lb. A decent skater for his size, he continues to improve. Wikstrom plays a tough and physical defensive game, and with his great size he is a force. However, in Sweden, his rugged type of game does not fit in, and the rules make it difficult for him to take full advantage of his size.
“I have more of a North American hockey style,” Wikstrom explains.
Following his draft year, Wikstrom ventured across the ocean to the Red Wings’ 1998 training camp in an attempt to make Adirondack of the AHL.
“The training camp I attended is the best hockey memory I have. Perhaps the best memory I’ll ever have,” said Wikstrom, fondly recalling his introduction to the Detroit Red Wing organization.