On the second day of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals selected Garin Bjorklund with the 179h pick overall. Bjorklund was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta on May 28, 2002. He currently is 6’2” and weighs 170 pounds.
Bjorklund played with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the 2019-20 season and the tail end of the 2018-19 season. He was the backup goalie for the team and in 28 games, posted 20-5-1 record, a 2.91 goals against average, and a save percentage of .897.
At age 17, he served as the backup to an older goalie, Mads Sogaard, but was ready to take on a starting role going forward. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, he played with the Calgary Buffaloes in the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) at the Midget AAA level.
At 17, Bjorklund was the backup behind an older goalie, but was poised to take a starting role going forward. His season was cut short by the spread of COVID-19.
Despite being a backup, Bjorklund was rated as one of the Top 5 North American goalies in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. He shared the net with 19-year-old Mads Sogaard, whom the Ottawa Senators drafted in the second round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Bjorklund spoke about Sogaard, “Having him as a good buddy, a role model and someone to look up to, I think that definitely helped me with my rookie season. Watching him go through all this last year definitely helped me this year, showed me what I needed to get better on and helped me to keep pushing. My goal was to get drafted, and hopefully I can do that.”
Bjorklund was drafted as part of the Caps’ strategy to gamble on players who the scouts thought could have higher potential than what was widely believed. With Bjorklund being a backup, albeit a heavily used backup, Caps figure he could continue his upward trajectory and be the primary goalie for his junior team.
Fun fact on Bjorklund’s last name – it is Swedish and Norwegian for “birch grove”. Another fun fact: his teammate, Lukas Svejkovsky, who the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted in the fourth round, is a son of former Capitals Jaroslav “Yogi” Svejkovsky.
By Diane Doyle