Until now, Andreas Englund has never had to live anywhere but home.
Sure, there were countless long bus rides to away games where his club team would stay a couple nights in a hotel, and he’s even participated in a handful of international tournaments in Finland, Canada and Slovakia. But never has he packed his bags for a journey of such longevity.
Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Englund had the benefit of playing professional, junior and minor hockey all in the city he grew up in.
Now, at the age of 20, he’s moving out of his parents’ home, leaving his friends and family, and crossing the Atlantic to begin on a hopeful road to the NHL.
That’s a big leap.
“The hockey part is what I’ve been doing for a long time,” said Englund after the final practice before the Senators’ rookie squad headed to London. “So it’s for sure going to be different, but I’m prepared for it...I hope my mom and dad have taught me what I need to know.”
The first drastic change that comes to mind? Definitely adjusting to smaller rink dimensions.
“My game with the puck has got to be quicker,” admitted Englund. “Back in Sweden, it’s a lot more ice and you have more time. That’s going to be a big part of the game.”
The changes inside the arena will soon be in the back of his mind. For a player of Englund’s caliber, tighter corners and a skinnier neutral zone will take little time adapting to. But outside of the rink, it’s not so much measurements, but a different culture and lifestyle.
“You definitely ride in a car more over here,” the 6’3 defender acknowledged. “Back in Sweden, and Stockholm especially, you’re using trains and buses pretty much everywhere you go. I’m not sure about the different stuff around the house, I guess I’ll find out when I get my own place.”
Englund isn’t that worried, though - or at least he doesn’t seem to be. His teammates know what he’s got ahead of him, and they’ve been quick to help with “all the questions” he has.
“I won’t be on my own out here. I’ve got at least 20 guys here for me.”
Englund’s game speaks for itself in the defensive zone. Known as a specialist in his own end, the young Swede’s defending abilities earned him top pairing minutes at the 2016 World Junior Championships. And all while wearing the “C” on his chest.
A physical presence on the ice with an exceptional first pass, the only weapon that might be missing from his arsenal is offensive flare. In the past two seasons with Djurgardens’ top squad, Englund had 11 (4, 7) points in 95 games. But for the player and the organization, it’s something they look to develop, not fret about.
“That’s something I need to work on,” accepts Englund. “Getting shots through and making them precise. There’s definitely some things I can work on, but my biggest strength is my defensive game and that’s what I’m going to rely on.”
Ottawa’s 2014 second round draft pick is one of many players to come out of Djurgardens into the Senators’ organization. Former Senators Tobias Lindberg and Mika Zibanejad played for the famous Stockholm hockey club in their teens, as did current Senator Frederik Claesson.
“The dream has always been to make an NHL team,” said Englund. “I’ll probably be playing in the AHL (this year), but I’m going to do my best at camp and do everything I can to make the team.”
Whether he’s in the nation’s capital or four hours down the road in Upstate New York come Oct. 12, the to-do list won’t be short; apartment hunting, furniture shopping, trips to the grocery store.
And call mom. That’s probably the most important one.
“We’ve had quite a few (phone calls). We’ve been talking quite a bit back and forth, but there’s kind of a time change, too. I think she’s doing alright. I hope so.”