After starting the 2011-12 season in the AHL, Capitals prospect Mattias Sjogren has decided to leave the Hershey Bears and return home to Sweden.
Washington signed Sjogren, 24, to a two-way entry-level contract in June and the centerman was billed as a player who would compete for an NHL roster spot in training camp. Sjogren attended rookie camp and then main training camp in September but was one of three final players cut as Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle earned the vacant spots on the Capitals’ roster.
Sjogren, whose contract is worth $900,000 in the NHL and $67,500 if he played in the minor leagues, was assigned to Hershey where he played 19 games, recording five points and a minus-6 rating this season. With no sign of an impending recall to Washington in the near future, Sjogren decided to return to Sweden. He had a clause that allowed him to leave North America in his contract.
“It’s probably a mistake. He needs to develop here and wasn’t prepared to make the commitment to do so,” General Manager George McPhee said. “When we signed him,we told him we had a job available and promised him we’d give him a look this year. His training camp wasn’t good enough to keep him at the start of the year and he was developing OK, but I guess he got impatient and decided to go home. And if you’re going to quit on us you might as well go.”
Sjogren’s agent, Ritch Winter, said on Twitter that the Capitals “promised he would not be sent to AHL for more than a few games” before signing the center. Winter did not return calls seeking comment.
“You can’t promise anyone an NHL job,” McPhee said, adding that Winter’s portrayal was inaccurate and that Sjogren had not been guaranteed an NHL roster spot. “You can promise them a great look and give them an opportunity. We told him we’d give him an opportunity this year but you’ve got to earn that job.”
Winter tweeted this morning: “Mattias Sjogren felt it best to develop as a player in Sweden. He had that right in his contract. I will make no further comment.”
McPhee said Sjogren’s development was progressing but that in the long run “his upside was fourth line center” with Washington. “He probably doesn’t have the footspeed to play any higher in the lineup than that.”