Senators suspend Mikael Wikstrand after he returns to Sweden

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray with some strong words about prospect Mikael Wikstrand, who bolted for Sweden while under contract and property of the Senators.

The Ottawa Senators have suspended prospect Mikael Wikstrand following his decision to return to his native Sweden.

By suspending him, the Senators can effectively deny the defenceman permission to play for his Swedish Elite League club, Farjestad.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray spoke to the media on the matter Friday — and he didn’t mince his words.

“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 told reporters, emphasizing his intention to disallow Wikstrand from playing professional hockey elsewhere while under contract with the NHL club.

“I can’t stop him from going home, if that’s what he wants to do,” Murray said. “But he’s suspended from playing hockey other than for our organization.”

Wikstrand, 21, signed an entry-level contract prior to the 2014-15 season, and has shown plenty of NHL potential since being drafted in the seventh round (196th overall) by the Senators in 2012.

“Everybody wants to play here in the big show,” Wikstrand told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston earlier this month. “It was my dream since I was a little kid.”

Murray also said that Wikstrand, who has yet to play an exhibition game with the Senators due to a shoulder injury, had been considering a move back to Sweden since rookie camp, saying that “he didn’t think he was ready.”

Wikstrand has since responded via Twitter — see the translated version, below — that his reason for going home is a family emergency.

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