Every player reacts differently to getting traded midseason. For Fabian Zetterlund, it had to be a shock to go from one of the most dynamic young teams in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils, to well, the San Jose Sharks. Acquired in the deal that sent Timo Meier to New Jersey. Zetterlund was one of the key pieces, along with Shakir Mukhamadullin, to the Bay Area. While Zetterlund struggled in his time in teal last season, a lot can be made of just being in a new place, on a bad team, and trying too hard.
Last season, Zetterlund had 6 goals and 14 assists in 45 games for the Devils prior to the trade. In 22 games with the Sharks, Zetterlund could only put up three assists. In New Jersey, Zetterlund was on track to put some quality analytics. In 540 minutes at 5v5 he had 53.91 CF%, 55.84 SF%, and nearly 60% HDCF%. Those numbers plummeted once he got to San Jose, where he posted 44.39 CF%, 41.72 SF%, and 38.93 HDFC% in 276 minutes.
This summer, as an RFA, Zetterlund signed a two-year deal at $1.45 million AAV. Zetterlund is expected to be a quality piece for the Sharks over those next two years as they continue to go through their rebuild. He will still qualify as an RFA at the end of this deal, so Grier could try another short deal term or look to lock up Zetterlund to a long-term extension.
Where does Zetterlund fit?
Few players have as much range as the Zetterlund when projecting lines this training camp. If he won a job playing with Logan Couture on the second line, it wouldn’t be that shocking, and if Zetterlund started the season on the fourth line, it would make some sense too. One of the few right-handed shots on the team, Zetterlund can play up and down the lineup as needed. His natural slot feels like a high-energy third-liner who can chip in some points and contribute on the power play.
While Zetterlund hasn’t played much penalty kill in his 81 NHL games, his play style lends himself to be a quality penalty killer. With so many potential openings in the PK unit, don’t be surprised if Zetterlund is one of the top penalty killers by the end of the season. His motor and big frame (5’11”, 220 pounds) has all the makings to be a tenacious penalty killer. On the power play, Zetterlund’s one timer is lethal, and he will have all the opportunities to juice up a second unit that was abysmal last season.
What’s next for Zetterlund?
Last season, Zetterlund didn’t look great in San Jose, but with a full offseason and training camp to get acclimated, he will have every opportunity to right the ship. While he may not being playing with the same cast of characters that he was in New Jersey, he should get an extended opportunity in San Jose to find his footing. While the Sharks were very shorthanded to end the season, Zetterlund had nearly 14 minutes of time on ice a night under David Quinn. A more comfortable and confident Zetterlund will see that go up, especially if he can contribute in all phases.
Bold Prediction: Zetterlund hits 10 goals for the first time in his career, with five of them coming via the power play.