Another player is headed overseas, but this time it’s one who hasn’t seen meaningful NHL action in some time. Sean Bergenheim has signed on to play with Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League, the team announced (link in Swedish). The Finnish winger was back in North America this off-season on a professional tryout agreement with the Anaheim Ducks, but was unable to earn a contract. Last season, Bergenheim played with Bern of the Swiss NLA, with his last big league action coming back in the 2014-15 season split between the Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild.
A first-round pick of the New York Islanders all the way back in 2002, Bergenheim got his NHL start early on, cracking the Islanders’ roster at the young age of 19. By 23, he had carved out a nice top-nine role for himself in New York. Never quite a 20-goal scorer, Bergenheim instead thrived as a strong two-way presence, capable of being a shutdown penalty killer, but also putting up 25+ points per season. After five seasons on the island, Bergenheim signed an affordable one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11 and had a breakout year. He followed up a career-high 29 points in a career-high 80 games with nine goals in 16 playoff games for the Lightning. His success translated into a nice raise in the form of a four-year, $11MM contract with the cross-state rival Florida Panthers that off-season. While Bergenheim continued to be a reliable player, his numbers didn’t live up to his contract, and he missed the entire lockout-shortened 2012-13 season with an injury. In the final year of his deal in 2014-15, a fed up Panthers team shipped Bergenheim to the Minnesota Wild, where he was a complete non-factor down the stretch. Bergenheim has not played in the NHL since.
Bergenheim’s contract with Frolunda, one of the most decorated teams in Sweden , is for just one year. Don’t be surprised if the 32-year-old veteran of over 500 NHL games tries his hand at earning a North American gig again next season.