Christian Djoos is enjoying his best professional season to date. The 22-year-old native of Gothenburg, Sweden, is in his second full season as a defenseman for the Hershey Bears. A year ago, Djoos was one of three rookie defensemen who helped the team advance to the Calder Cup Finals. So far this season has been a bit of a roller coaster though.
After playing two road games to start the season, Djoos suffered a lower-body injury that forced him to miss nine games (he returned November 11).
Earlier this season Bryan Helmer, VP of Hockey Operations said,” Obviously Djoos had a set-back there with his knee. All three (Djoos and fellow second-year defesemen Tyler Lewington, and Madison Bowey) guys work real well in practice and I think if you would have asked me this question at the start of last year, I would have said there is no way they would be where they are right now. They’re a big reason why we made it to the Calder Cup finals and it’s a lot of pressure on the first year guys to get us that far. They really pulled their weight and more and I think it’s really benefitting us this year too. I think good things are going to come and they are heading in the right direction.”
With the knee healed, Djoos returned to the ice and began enjoying a great deal of success. In 38 games so far this season, he has recorded six goals and 23 assists and is currently fifth on the team in scoring. He is the top-scoring defenseman for the Bears, and is tied for fourth in the league in scoring for active defensemen. But he’s not one to allow the spotlight to shine on himself, instead, he often deflects it back onto his teammates.
He said, “I think the power play we’ve had a good run with Travis and Chris and Sanford and Liam O’Brien, so a lot of points from the power play and lucky bounces too I think but you got to have some of those in the season too.”
But that highest of the highs took a serious hit December 30 at Giant Center when Djoos was hit in the face by a puck. He hustled off the ice and down the tunnel with Dan “Beaker” Stuck. Meanwhile, teammate and assistant captain, Zach Sill was skating around looking at the ice. Moments later he took off his glove, bent down to the ice, and held up a tooth.
“It’s right here, said Djoos as he pointed to the tooth. “They put it back, so thanks to Sill. I feel good. It’s fine. Yeah, tough time for the first week and a half to eat and stuff, but it felt good after that.”
Mann stated that Djoos was sent to the dentist in serious pain and was not expected to play the following night against Providence.
When the Bears returned to the ice January 6, Djoos was in the line-up with some extra facial protection. Eventually, he graduated to the “cage” and finally has had that removed as well, which seemed to help return his offense to what it was before the injury.
“It feels a lot better than wearing a cage, but I had to the first four weeks, so that’s how it is.”
His scoring ability also has been noticed in Washington as the Capitals recalled him last week. While he didn’t play in an NHL game during the brief recall, he enjoyed the experience.
Djoos said,” It was cool. I was there for two or three days. I got to watch two games and be around to learn and watch. It was awesome. They had games back-to-back so I let them focus on their games (rather than asking many questions of former Bears defensemen) there’s nice guys there and if you have any questions they’ll answer.”
One of these days, Christian will follow father, Par Djoos, onto NHL ice. Pars is a former NHL and SHL defenseman who played in 82 games with the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers. But for now, the sweet success in Hershey is enough, but only for right now, and it wouldn’t hurt to take a return trip to the Calder Cup Finals either.
“Last year we (Bowey, Lewington, and Djoos) came here and didn’t know what to expect really. But we had good older guys too who helped us out, so thanks to those guys and we learned every day. Last year Bryan Helmer was our coach, so it was details every day and working with the stuff we have to work on. Unfortunately we didn’t win. This year maybe.”
Just the Facts
Drafted: 2012 in the 7th Round (195th overall) by the Washington Capitals
Number: Hershey – 5
DOB: August 6, 1994
First AHL Goal: November 1, 2015 for Hershey against Lehigh Valley
First AHL Point: April 18, 2015 for Hershey against Lehigh Valley
He Said It
After a recent game, I sat down with Christian and asked him to finish a few sentences that I started.
Teammate I’d never want to fight – Probably Zach Sill or Liam O’Brien
Best part of being in Hershey – Great fans. Probably the best fans in the league I think. Everything around it from the staff to the people who come to the rink and help out, the small little stuff, everyone’s very friendly so it’s easy to be here.
I try to model my game after – I like Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona so I kind of watch his game a little bit because he’s a good player.
I started playing hockey when I was – I probably skated since I was 3 or 4. I don’t know what year I started playing, but I was a little kid, probably 4 or 5.
My favorite sport other than hockey is – Probably soccer. I’m a European guy, so we watch a lot of soccer.
If I wasn’t playing hockey I would – I don’t know – I’d say maybe a soccer player.
My Czech teammates – They’re funny guys. You can always laugh when you’re around them. They’re great guys. They’re funny guys and nice guys. Walker tries (to speak to them in Czech), but I don’t think he’s that good.
Worst road trip experience – No bad trips. We always have fun and have a great bus to go in, so there’s never a bad trip, so I don’t have any bad memories from a trip.
By Julie Beidler