The Senators’ 2012 seventh-round draft pick has been loaned to Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League for the remainder of the 2015-16 season, Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray announced Wednesday, ending a months-long stalemate.
“After further conversations with both the player and his representatives, it appears that playing hockey in North America is not a consideration for Mikael at any point in the immediate future,” Murray said.
“In an effort to further monitor his development, we have agreed to loan Mikael to Färjestad for the remainder of the season. We will retain his North American rights and should he change his outlook on working towards playing in the National Hockey League, we will be open to discussing a potential return at an appropriate time in the future.”
The Swedish defenceman, who has yet to play a professional game this season, rejoiced on Twitter, saying he was looking forward to getting back on the ice:
Back in September, Wikstrand left the Senators unannounced to be with his sick brother in Europe and later acknowledged he handled the situation poorly.
“I’m really sorry about that. I should have brought it up in a more professional way and told them why I wanted to play back home. But I’m a guy who likes to keep things to myself, keep them in the family,” Wikstrand told Värmlands Folkblad.
“My brother has leukemia, blood cancer. Considering the seriousness of the disease, I want to spend as much time as possible with him and the rest of the family.”
Upon learning of Wikstrand’s sudden departure, Murray sounded off to a group of reporters (watch above).
“I told him that he can go home and be a grocery clerk and play in a beer league, but he could not play hockey in any shape or form if he doesn’t play for the Ottawa organization, and that’s the way it’ll be,” Murray said on Sept. 25.
“I can’t stop him from going home, if that’s what he wants to do, but he’s suspended from playing hockey other than for our organization.”