Jesper Bratt had just finished his first exhibition game of the 2017-18 season. Unassuming, unimposing, he was standing at his stall in the dressing room, taking off his equipment, with no media member near him for several minutes.
The 19-year-old left wing had signed with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights during the offseason, and these preseason games with the New Jersey Devils were supposed to serve as an appetizer for his first junior season and first campaign on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.
After all, Bratt, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, was selected in the sixth round, 162nd overall, by the Devils in the 2016 National Hockey League Draft, and there was no way he was ready for a role in "The Show."
"I wanted to come to North America to play on the smaller rink and get used to that way of hockey," he said that night when asked why he inked with the Knights. "London is a great organization and it could be a good step for me because hopefully I’m going to play (with New Jersey) one day. That’s what I’m working for."
There was one hitch in his plan. He was too elusive and too skilled in his skating, possessed too much hockey sense on both sides of the puck, and owned a shot too sharp to be sent to London.