by Ron Spence
I thought he’d be a cross between Nick Lidstrom and Ulfie Samuelsson – in a ‘nucks’ uniform.
He was the Swedish Rookie of the Year – in 1998-99 – and played with an edge.
“Another mean defensive-minded defenseman,” wrote Hockey’s Future, “but more in the Darius Kasparitis mold than Bonni’s up-front toughness. David has slightly more offensive upside than Bonni, but isn’t as big, or strong.”
courtesy of the Vancouver Canucks
David Ytfeldt was drafted under the name of David Jonsson, in the 5th round – 136th overall – and was one pick behind Andrew Raycroft.
He had been selected for Team Sweden’s Under 18 team – which won a silver medal at the European Junior Cup. That 1996-97 season, he also played in the J20 Superelit – Sweden’s best junior league – for Leksand when he was 17-years-old.
Ytfeldt played another 23 games with Leksand’s J20 squad during the 1997-98 season, then graduated to their elite league squad and played in 10 contests. The Elitserien is Sweden’s top hockey league, and ranked as the fourth best circuit in Europe – after the Russian KHL, the Finnish SM-liiga, and the Czech Extraliga.
ELITSERIEN – ARETS ROOKIE
The following 1998-99 season – still playing in the Elitserien circuit – David Ytfeldt was voted the Swedish Rookie of the Year.
(Writer’s Note: Some very good players have won the Rookie award – Henrik Zetterberg, Victor Hedman, etc. I have added a column showing where these award winners played after their selection.)
Also, Ytfeldt played for Team Sweden at the World Juniors – under 20 – Championships and had 4 points in 6 games.
The Canucks were very happy to hear that their draft pick had won the award, but he never came to Vancouver’s prospects camp.
Ytfeldt continued to play for Leksands during the 1999-2000 season – had 72 penalty minutes – and was a brutal -21 in 50 games.
Next, Ytfeldt moved to Finland – to a superior league – but had suffered a back injury and could play in only 11 games. He returned to Sweden and went down a level to the J20 Superelit for two games in January of 2001. Later, he returned to the Elitserien – with Frolunda’s top team – and played 9 games and went -7.
This was 2 1/2 years after he had been drafted by the Canucks, and he still hadn’t attended a prospects camp.
Hockey’s Future wrote in the spring of 2001:
“David Ytfeldt would have had a great chance to make the Canucks this past season had he attended Training Camp…If he makes the jump to North America, David will no doubt make a leap on my prospect list. As long as he’s in Sweden playing, though, he’s only a small blip on the Canucks’ radar. ETA: 2004, or never at all.”
VANCOUVER CANUCKS DMEN
It’s interesting that Ytfeldt would leave Sweden to play in a Finnish league, but not go to an NHL camp. And, Vancouver was loaded with Swedes: Naslund, Ohlund, the Sedins. It’s not as though it would have been a difficult place to adapt to.
There was also room on Vancouver’s roster for a 5th or 6th Dman. The top four were: Ohlund, Jovo, Aucoin and Murray Baron.
Greg Hawgood was an AHL standout brought in as a filler, and Chris Joseph and Doug Bodger had seen better days. Vancouver brought in Scott Lachance as a free agent, and traded for Drake Berehowsky. Bryan Allen was recovering from injury and Brent Sopel was taking the ice time that Ytfeldt could have had.
But, David Ytfeldt didn’t do himself, or the Canucks a favour.
By the 2002-03 season, he was playing in Sweden’s second level Northern League – for the Nykoping Hockey team – a squad that was desperately trying to make it to the Elitserien. Playing against less talented rivals, Ytfeldt had 11 points in 15 games.
The following season, he went further down the Swedish hockey ladder – to division two – and played for IFK Stromsund, a kind of club hockey team. He worked as both a player and trainer.
Then Ytfeldt returned to the Leksands area where he works in a gym and wellness centre.
He was asked a few years ago why he stopped playing?
The google translation reads as follows:
“…it was that easy that I have not had the urge to play anymore. I had simply lost the taste…I felt that there were other things I wanted to do in life than to play hockey. That was the biggest reason why I did not play longer than what I did.”
He never mentioned his injuries during this interview.
So, David Ytfeldt – like Keyser Söze – is a mythical character.
The Vancouver faithful heard about him, never saw him play, and never will.
But, his name remains – on the net – battling the usual suspects who come towards his net….