New York Islanders prospect Calle Odelius is just 19 years old and, like many young defensemen, is still very much a work in progress. Selected with the team's top pick (65th overall) at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Swedish defenseman has his eyes set on coming over to North America and playing in Bridgeport during the 2024-25 season, but before that, is looking for a more well-rounded season when he returns to Sweden.
While other defensive prospects, such as 2022 fourth-round pick Isaiah George, are playing in juniors against teenagers in juniors, Odelius will be heading back to Sweden this year to play again with Djurgårdens IF, one of the top teams in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) last year. In his second season with the club, he registered 11 points (1G, 10A) in 43 games while adding a goal and two assists during the playoffs.
“He moves well, a good skater,” Bridgeport head coach Rick Kowalsky said of Odelius on Thursday when meeting with the media after rookie camp. “It’s the first time seeing him for me, but it looks like there's some offensive ability there. I was impressed overall on the one-on-ones and how he defended and competed down low.”
To excel when he arrives in North America, which could potentially come at the end of his SHL season, Odelius is going to have to transition to the smaller North American ice surface, something that requires the defenseman to be more precise and decisive with the puck.
That difference was noticeable for Odelius even during rookie camp. “It’s much faster here,” he said. “You have to make quicker reads here than back in Sweden.”
In fan circles, the feeling is that George has now surpassed Odelius in terms of expectations from the 2022 Draft Class. While they both possess plus skating ability, George seems to have attracted more attention during rookie camp following the strides he took last season with the OHL London Knights. It'll be important for Odelius to assert himself more in the SHL this season ahead of making the transition to Bridgeport the following year.