After a season in the NHL, defenseman Joel Persson is headed back to his native Sweden. In fact, he will return to the SHL’s Vaxjo Lakers, the same team he played with for the two seasons prior to his jump to North America. The team has announced a new three-year deal with Persson that will keep him in Sweden through the 2022-23 season.
Persson, 26, actually signed his first NHL deal with the Edmonton Oilers in 2018. However, he stayed with Vaxjo on loan through the 2018-19 season before inking a one-year extension with Edmonton. He arrived in the NHL this season and recorded two points in 13 games with the Oilers, adding 16 points in 27 games with AHL Bakersfield. Persson was traded to the Anaheim Ducks at the deadline, but did make an appearance with the team and was held scoreless in the minors as well. So while a recent report noted that the Ducks had communicated with all of their pending free agents, it is no surprise that there was no mutual interest in a continued relationship between Anaheim and Persson.
While Persson’s first season in North America was not a failure, it didn’t live up to the expectations set by his meteoric rise in Sweden. Fortunately, he is still young enough to make the decision to return home without it eliminating the chance of an NHL comeback. Persson will be 29 when his new deal with Vaxjo expires. Based off his performance in his first two years in the SHL – 65 points in 101 games and league championship – his stock will likely be even higher at that time. NHL teams will likely be keeping tabs on the talented puck-moving, right-handed blue liner over the next few years. It’s quite possible that this is not the last of Persson in the league.