ROCKFORD, Ill. -- IceHogs veteran Victor Svedberg returned to full health in 2017-18 for the final season of a two-year contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks. After being limited to 51 games during the 2016-17 campaign, the 27-year-old defenseman played in 73 of Rockford’s 76 contests – seven more games than any other IceHogs defensemen – and set career highs in every major statistical category.
The five-year pro has skated with the Hogs in each of his first five years of his career, and capped this year's campaign with six goals, 18 assists and a +18 rating. He even logged the first three-point effort of his career in his 214th AHL game with a goal and two helpers on Jan. 10 at Ontario.
The big-bodied defenseman also displayed some flash with the puck during his standout season, contributing a pair of game-winning shootout goals with a nifty backhanded flip against the Texas Stars and a devastating slapshot against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“I felt pretty good about my season,” said Svedberg in his exit interview after the IceHogs were eliminated from the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs in the Western Conference Finals by the Texas Stars. “It’s always nice to go far in the playoffs, and this is the farthest we’ve gone since I’ve been here. It was very fun, a great ride.”
Svedberg said part of both his and the team’s overall success this year came from the atmosphere in the locker room. Rockford’s roster featured a balance of fresh faces and veterans, with 17 AHL rookies over the course of the season meshing with the likes of Svedberg, who has five seasons under his belt in the AHL, and Cody Franson, who has played in more than 500 games at the NHL level.
According to Svedberg, that combination of personalities helped fuel the IceHogs’ sprint down the stretch run and eventual push to the Western Conference Finals.
“I think everyone was happy, I think that was kind of the key to our success,” said Svedberg “I think everyone came to the rink with a smile on their face, and it makes everyone else smile, and makes the team good too. It brings a lot of positive energy, brings a lot of good things, I think that’s been a key all year.”
Once the Hogs hit the postseason, Svedberg contributed a point in each of the first two series against the Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose, before getting hot and collecting three assists, a +4 rating and 10 shots on goal over his last three contests against the Stars. His strong push in the later stages of the final series helped Rockford force a Game 6 in the series. However, despite the solid effort, Svedberg and Rockford were ultimately eliminated just before reaching the Calder Cup Finals.
“We had a nice team and I think we were pretty close to getting all the way,” said Svedberg. “I think overall, we had a really good year – and when we look back at in a few weeks, we’ll be really proud.”
As for the blueliner individually, he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month. Svedberg said he’ll take the free time in June to unwind from the season – including a trip to Italy that’s been in the works – and he and his agent will revisit plans for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Svedberg. “But obviously I want to thank the fans and everyone around the (IceHogs) organization here for the five years I’ve been here. It’s been a pleasure, and I can’t thank them enough for all the support.”
The native of Göteborg, Sweden ranks first all-time among Swedish-born players with his 248 games and 73 points for Rockford. Svedberg also trails only Mark McNeill (261 games) and Ville Pokka (266 games) for the most games played in franchise history since his pro debut in 2013-14.
Season Tickets for 2018-19 on Sale Now: Don’t miss a moment of the action by reserving your seats for the IceHogs’ 20th season of professional hockey in Rockford and 12th as the top AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. The IceHogs’ home opener is set for Oct. 13 and ticket packages begin as low as $105 for a seven-game mini pack. Please contact us at (815) 847-6399 or visit icehogs.com to claim your spots for this upcoming season.