July 27, 2009

P.J. Axelsson also to Frölunda

Left winger Per-Johan Axelsson, 11 seasons with the Boston Bruins, has signed a 4-year contract with Frölunda in the SEL. He will join the same team as Joel Lundqvist and also the club where he started his senior career.

- Frölunda is the club in my heart. I have always wanted to come back here. Now it suited well in and I'm looking forward to experience nice things again with the team. Saw that Joel Lundqvist was talking about winning the Swedish Championship. That sounded good.

I thought Pebben (as he is called over here) would continue his NHL career. I guess the chance of him returning to Frölunda increased a lot though, when the team, where he played his whole NHL career, decided not to give him an offer.

July 23, 2009

Joel Lundqvist's back in Frölunda

Not much going on at the moment, so I have been enjoying the summer. Here are some news though.

Since May, there has been articles now and then about forward Joel Lundqvist and where he will play next season. Lundqvist played for the Dallas Stars last season and had a rough season with injury problems that made him miss half of the season. Dallas ended up not re-signing him, so he became an UFA this summer.

Most have pointed towards Lundqvist going to his old SEL team Frölunda, unless something interesting would come up at the other side of the pond, and now it's official. According to Lundqvist's agent, Lars Cederström, he will play for Frölunda and if the contract wasn't signed yesterday, it will be within the next few days. The contract is on six years with a clause (NHL-out clause I'm guessing) after each season according to the agent.

Frölunda now got 16 forwards under contract and players like Washington's first round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, Anton Gustafsson, and Atlanta's 34 overall pick in 2009, Carl Klingberg, could be two of the first ones to be loaned out to the affiliated team Borås in HockeyAllsvenskan.

July 13, 2009

Engqvist stays one more year in SEL

The two-way center Andreas Engqvist participated in the development camp of the Montreal Canadiens last week and Montreal obviously liked what they saw as he now has signed a 3-year contract.

Peter Wallén, the agent of Engqvist, commented about the signing at Expressen.

- They have been after Andreas for a while now. We had discussions with a lot of clubs too, but in the end we thought this was the best alternative, says agent Peter Wallén.

- Andreas is very happy and satisfied. Montreal is an NHL team with a rich history.

It is already decided though that Engqvist will be loaned out and play another year in the SEL with Djurgården.

- He was injured half last season and we all thought it was good that he gets to play a full season in the SEL before he comes over, says Wallén.


July 09, 2009

Homer keeps on going

The Detroit warrior Tomas Holmström will be starting his 13th NHL season since he joined the league as a 23-year-old, but he says in an interview with Aftonbladet that he isn't seeing the end just yet.

- To continue until I'm 40 years old would be nice. I'm just 36 years so far and it's still damn fun to play hockey. Maybe I can try to beat Chris Chelios record, he is 47 years old, Holmström says.

Eleven more years? You got to be kidding me?
- (Laugh). I think it's incredibly fun to play. Sure, I'm going towards the end of my career, but this is a lifestyle and I want to keep on going for a couple of more years.

It's in the NHL that Holmström wants to spend those years and he doubts he will return to Sweden to finish his career. He enjoying being with the Red Wings incredibly much and the same goes for his life outside the club.

- Our kids are born and have grown up in Detroit, and we will probably stay here after my retirement. Right now I'm applying for a Green Card and to play in Luleå and Sweden is something I doubt I will do.

Holmström was part of the Swedish gold medal winning team in the 2006 Olympics. The upcoming Olympics in Vancouver are closing in very fast and that is something Holmström is really looking forward to.

While he loves talking about the Olympics, it becomes obvious that the 2009 Stanley Cup final is something he doesn't like talking about when Aftonbladet ask if he has recovered from it.

- No, absolutely not. I almost feel like hanging up now when you start talking about it. That's how hard it is.


- I know how fun it is to win and we had the chance to do it at home ice... It still hurts. And that it will do for a good while yet.


July 06, 2009

Wallin confirms Leafs rumor *Updated*

Rickard Wallin confirms in Aftonbladet and Expressen today that it is indeed the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the blog wrote yesterday, that wants him. He avoids saying everthing is a done deal just yet though, while Johans blogg repeats once again today that it is.

The news came as a shock for Färjestad and its fans yesterday, but Wallin says the following to Aftonbladet.

- I'm 29 years old, so it's my last chance. I would probably regret it, if I didn't take the chance, he says.

Wallin's agent, Craig Oster, says to Expressen that talks with Toronto have been going for a couple of weeks.

- Toronto believes he can help the club and they think he has had a good season and a good World Championship. We started talking with them a couple of weeks ago, says Wallin's agent Craig Oster.

UPDATE JULY 10: It's now confirmed that Toronto has signed Rickard Wallin.

July 05, 2009

Rickard Wallin to Toronto?

According to the reliable blog, Johans Blogg, Swedish center Rickard Wallin is returning to the NHL. This time to the Toronto Maple Leafs though instead of the Minnesota Wild.

Earlier this year, Wallin signed a 4-year extension with Färjestad in the SEL. As you might remember though, he was one of the players in Hockey in Swedish's list of SEL players with an NHL-out clause. A clause which he supposedly has used now.

Wallin had a SEL career-high of 45 points in 55 games this season, which placed him 10th in points in the league. He later went on to win his third Swedish Championship title and then play in his third straight World Championship.

This will be his second attempt at making it in the NHL. So far Wallin got 19 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild under his belt and he produced 6 goals and 4 assists in those games.

July 04, 2009

Darren Haydar to Colorado *Updated*

MODO Hockey in the SEL has been showing interest, but now it's apprently official that Canadian Right Winger Darren Haydar will continue his career in the NHL/AHL.

Haydar's agent has confirmed to Johans Blogg that the Canadian right winger has signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Darren has had a successful AHL career so far with for example a league MVP award and a Calder Cup under his belt, but is still working on cracking an NHL roster and become a regular in the big league.

Not the biggest of news, but now you got it in English for the first time.

UPDATE JULY 6: The signing is now official.

July 03, 2009

Who will report to the CHL?

In case you missed it, the CHL Import Draft took place on June 30. A record 12 Swedish players were selected in the Draft with Gabriel Landeskog leading the way as the 3rd pick overall.

Swedish players aren't known to make the jump to the Canadian juniors, but will this year be different? To try and answer this, I have taken the time to find information about as many players as possible of the Swedish players selected. I also did the same thing with the two Danish players selected, who played in Sweden last season.

From the early looks of it, it seems like a lot of these players will report to their respective teams. One thing is for sure though, last year's list seems incredibly small and weak compare to this year's. So enjoy!

3. Gabriel Landeskog, RW, Djurgården (J20/SEL) —> Plymouth (OHL)
According to Hockeymagasinet.com, it is relatively certain that Landeskog will make the jump and play for Plymouth. Gabriel has avoided the signing of a contract with Djurgården's senior team all summer so far and the site says it has been a dream of his to play in the Canadian juniors.

9. Robin Lehner, G, Frölunda (J20) —> Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Hockey in Swengligh wrote before about how Lehner was interested in moving to the CHL. Apparently the Ottawa prospect made his decision during the NHL Draft and will indeed make the jump.

23. Alexander Urbom, D, Djurgården (J20/SEL) —> Brandon (WHL)
The Devils prospect Urbom has been rumored to sign with a team in HockeyAllsvenskan for next season. EP Blog had a talk with his agent, Peter Werner, who said that it was expected that one CHL team would take a chance on Urbom. Nothing is done though and the agent was going to have a chat with Alex about it. So HockeyAllsvenskan or WHL for Urbom.

26. Fredrik Cedergren, RW, HV71 (J20) —> Prince Albert (WHL)
Bama's Blogg has reported earlier about Cedergren looking to play college hockey in the USA next season. That blog speculates now that it is likely Fredrik will report, because of the earlier reports already saying he is on the way to North America.

41. John Persson, RW, Mora (J18/J20) —> Red Deer (WHL)
The info Red Deer Rebels head coach/vice-president of hockey operations Jesse Wallin has gotten is that Persson will be coming over for sure. You can read Wallin's quote here.

45. Patrik Andersson, D, Brynäs (J20) —> Kitchener (OHL)
There has been rumors about Andersson going to Borås in HockeyAllsvenskan. Kitchener traded for this pick on Draft day though, which makes you wonder if they maybe know he will come over. That's just me speculating though.

57. Hampus Gustafsson, LW, Malmö (J20/SWE-2) —> Saskatoon (WHL)
It was expected that Gustafsson would get drafted. In an interview with Johans Blogg, he confirms that he will go over and try to make the team.

61. Victor Hertzberg, RW, Frölunda (J20) —> Cape Breton (QMJHL)
General Manager and Head Coach of Cape Breton, Mario Durocher, says he has been in contact with Hertzberg almost every day in the last week and that Victor is excited to be coming over.

62. Kalle Ekelund, D, Nybro (SWE-2) —> London (OHL)
Ekelund says in an interview with Barometern that the goal is to play with London next season and he is very excited about being drafted by them.

64. Jacob Berglund, LW, Malmö (J20/SWE-2) —> Portland (WHL)
Jacke confirms his plans of reporting to Portland in the newspaper Kvällsposten, which came as no surprise. Check out this YouTube clip of him, that I uploaded last fall.

71. Sebastian Svendsen, C/W, Frölunda (J20) — > Vancouver (WHL)
Svendsen was the first Dane picked in the Draft. He says to the Danish site, Hockeymagasinet, that he was surprised by Vancouver drafting him as it wasn't a team he had talked with. Svendsen is planning on making the jump, but he is under contract with Frölunda and a few details must be worked out first.

74. Oskar Orrpars, D, Djurgården (J18) —> Lewiston (QMJHL)
Orrpars has come over and played a lot for Lewiston GM Roger Shannon's V-Reds development program in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Shannon says he was able to convince Oskar to come over to North America and play full-time.

75. Ted Brithén, C, Rögle (J20/SEL) —> Sarnia (OHL)
Brithén confirms through Rögle's homepage that he will play for Sarnia next season. He sees it as a step in his developement to take a spot on Rögle's senior team within a couple of years.

76. Rasmus Damgaard, D, Malmö (J20) —> Medicine Hat (WHL)
Willie Desjardin, the GM and head coach of the Tigers, says there is a 50-50 chance Danish defenseman Damgaard will stay and play back in Europe this season. Rasmus got a newly signed 1-year contract with Hvidovre in the Danish top league, which is probably what is causing the problems.


July 02, 2009

Sweden's roster to Ivan Hlinka Memorial

Sweden roster for the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, which also is known as the U18 Junior World Cup, was announced today. The tournament will take place in August 11-15.

Players to keep an extra eye on are Adam Larsson, Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Öhman, who all look like possible top picks (Öhman in 2010 NHL Draft, the others in 2011).

All these three players have already tried out senior hockey and both Larsson and Öhman will next season be part of their respective organization's senior team. Landeskog, on the other hand, looks to be heading to the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL.

SEL: Swedish Elite League (top league in Sweden)
SWE-2: HockeyAllsvenskan (division under SEL)
SWE-3: Division 1 (division under SWE-2)
U18 and U20: The U18/U20 leagues in Sweden

Johan Gustafsson, Skåre (SWE-3) - 2010 NHL Draft
Stefan Steen, Leksand (U18) - 2011

Johan Alm, Skellefteå (U20) - 2010
Adam Larsson, Skellefteå (U20/SEL) - 2011
Victor Berglind, Brynäs (U20) - 2011
Karl Johansson, Brynäs (U18) - 2011
Daniel Gunnarsson, Leksand (U20) - 2010
Patrik Nemeth, AIK (U20) - 2010
Jonathan Nielsen, Linköping (U18) - 2011

Gabriel Landeskog, Djurgården (U20/SEL) - 2011
Fredric Weigel, Djurgården (U18) - 2010
Johan Larsson, Brynäs (U20) - 2010
Ludvig Rensfeldt, Brynäs (U18) - 2010
Sebastian Ottosson, Linköping (U18) - 2010
Adam Pettersson, Skellefteå (U20) - 2010
Joakim Nordström, AIK (U18) - 2010
Rickard Rakell, AIK (U18) - 2011
Victor Öhman, Malmö (U20/SWE-2) - 2010
Johan Sundström, Frölunda (U18) - 2011
Victor Rask, Leksand (U18) - 2011
Erik Thorell, Färjestad (U18) - 2010


Available SEL players?

It's July and the NHL Free Agency Frenzy has started again.

As there still is no transfer agreement between Sweden and the NHL, players with SEL contracts have to have an NHL-out clause to be able to sign with an NHL team.

I found a list that consisted of players with an NHL-out clause, but it only listed some of the SEL teams. I ending up using it as a base to assemble a list with players with a SEL contract, but who are available to sign with any NHL team (at least now in July).

The list is probably still missing a lot of names as it's hard to get info about these things, but I will update it if I find out about any other players.

Lars Jonsson, D (Brynäs) - 53GP, 9G, 12A, 21P
Riku Hahl, C (Frölunda) - 52GP, 7G, 24A, 31P
Johan Holmqvist, G (Frölunda) - 49GP, 2.15GAA, .917SVS%, 2SO
Per Ledin, LW/RW (HV71) - 58GP, 11G, 12A, 23P (AHL)
Mikko Lehtonen, D (Frölunda) - 41GP, 15G, 15A, 30P
Janne Niskala, D (Frölunda) - 35GP, 9G, 10A, 19P
Rickard Wallin, C/LW (Färjestad) - 55GP, 18G, 27A, 45P

Also, for the fun of it, here are the current three SEL Free Agents that had most points last season plus a joker:

Fredrik Bremberg, LW (Djurgården) - 53GP, 17G, 40A, 57P
Mika Pyörälä, LW/C (Timrå) - 55GP, 21G, 22A, 43P
Niklas Anger, RW/LW (Djurgården) - 51GP, 23G, 19A, 42P
Peter Forsberg, C (MODO) - 3GP, 1G, 2A, 3GP

The all-time leading scorer in the SEL, Bremberg (did you know that?), and the guy with the funny lastname, Anger, will probably not attract interested from the NHL and might head out in Europe (KHL?). Pyörälä might be looking to try and make it onto an NHL roster through camp/AHL.

Forsberg? Well who knows about his future? Probably not even him.

June 30, 2009

Sedins update

Yesterday, a lot of websites reported that Mike Gillis, GM of the Vancouver Canucks, was flying to Sweden to talk with the soon-to-be UFAs Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

While the twins seem to have appreciated the gesture by Gillis, it also seems like not much have changed and the Sedins are still planning on testing the market on July 1. At least judging by Henrik Sedin's comment in Aftonbladet.

- It was nice that they flew over to see us. We met and talked a bit. They want to give their view on the whole thing and present what they think.

What happens now?
- We have to wait and see what happens. We have said what we want, but there are some differences of opinion. We will see what happens tomorrow.


June 28, 2009

Oduya remains a Devil *Updated again*

According to Aftonbladet, it will soon be announced that Johnny Oduya has re-signed with the New Jersey Devils. The 27-year-old defenseman would have become an UFA on July 1, but now it looks like he will stay with the Devils instead.

After a couple of very solid seasons, with 29 points and and a plus-21 in 2008-09, he is now expected to get a big raise. According to Aftonbladet, the contract is on a bit over $3 million per year, but no words on the length.

Update 1: It appears that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has denied that it is a done deal. So I guess we will have to wait and see if there was any truth to Aftonbladet's article. In my experience though, if there is something Aftonbladet is good at, it is fishing up info about Swedish players signing in the NHL.

Update 2: Not surprising, the Devils confirmed the re-signing today.

"We are delighted to have Johnny Oduya stay with the organization," said Lamoriello. "He has developed into one of the more talented young defensemen in the National Hockey League."


June 26, 2009

More draft predictions

Time for some more 2009 NHL Draft predictions from Sweden. This time from the creator of EliteProspects, Johan Nilsson and his blog.

Nilsson has tried to predict where Swedish players will go in the draft. He thinks 29 Swedes will be drafted, which would be 12 more than last year.

SEL: Swedish Elite League (top league in Sweden)
SWE-2: HockeyAllsvenskan (division under SEL)
SWE-3: Division 1 (division under SWE-2)
U18 and U20: The U18/U20 leagues in Sweden
OHL: Ontario Hockey League
USHS: United States High School
*: Player has been passed over in earlier draft(s).

1st round
Victor Hedman, D, MODO (SEL) - Top 3
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Leksand (SWE-2) - Top 10
Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson, LW, Timrå (SEL) - Top 10
David Rundblad, D, Skellefteå (SEL) - Top 20
Jacob Josefson, C, Djurgården (SEL) - Top 25
Tim Erixon, D, Skellefteå (SEL) - Top 30

2nd Round
Carl Klingberg, RW, Frölunda (U20)
Marcus Johansson, C/LW Färjestad (SEL)
Anton Lander, C/LW, Timrå (SEL)
Robin Lehner, G, Frölunda (U20)

3rd round
Jakob Silfverberg, RW/LW, Brynäs (SEL/U20)
Anton Rödin, LW, Brynäs (U20)
Simon Bertilsson, D, Brynäs (SEL/U20)

4th round
Henrik Björklund, RW, Skåre (SWE-3)
Alexander Urbom, D, Djurgården (U20)
Anton Blomqvist*, D, Malmö (SWE-2/U20)
Mattias Lindström, LW/C, Skellefteå (U20)

5th round
Anders Nilsson*, G, Luleå (U20)
Marcus Krüger*, C/RW, Djurgården
Jonathan Johansson, C, Frölunda (U20)

6th round
Patrik Cehlin, RW, Djurgården (U20)
Alexander Fällström, RW, Shattuck St. Mary's (USHS)
Simon Löf, D, Brynäs (U20)
Martin Karlsson, RW, Leksand (U20)

7th round
William Wallén, LW, Mississugua (OHL)
Viktor Svedberg, D, Rögle (U20)
Andreas Gröndahl*, RW, Södertälje (U20)
Simon Önerud*, LW, HV71 (SEL)
Peter Andersson, D, Frölunda (U20)

Right Winger Alexander Fällström (6th round) is the only player seen on this list, who isn't on Hockeymagasinet's Top 50 that I posted earlier.

Johan Nilsson has also listed his five favorite players of those who he doesn't think will be drafted.

1. Markus Nilsson, C, Troja-Ljungby (U20)
2. Hampus Gustafsson, LW, Malmö (SWE-2/U20)
3. Adam Almquist, D, HV71 (U20)
4. Petter Emanuelsson, C, Skellefteå (U20)
5. Mark Owuya*, G, Almtuna (SWE-2)

Markus Nilsson, Hampus Gustafsson and Petter Emanuelsson are players not mentioned in the Top 50, while Adam Almquist is ranked 33th and Mark Owuya is ranked 22th.
Players to keep an eye for the future or maybe even this year's draft?

09 Draft: Hockeymagasinet's Top 50

Just like last year (here and here), Hockeymagasinet.com's Anders Östberg has ranked the top 50 Swedish players (plus Danish and Norwegian players playing in Sweden) for the 2009 NHL Draft. Östberg's criterias for the ranking is the same as last year, so I will just quote what I said last year.

He mentions in the introduction text to the list, that it's not just about who will turn into the best player. Instead he takes the NHL into consideration (style of playing, small rinks etc) and sees if the player would be able to fill a role there one day. So a player that has the potential to become a great SEL player one day, might still end up lower on the list because he would never fit in the NHL. Also being passed over in earlier drafts will affect the player's ranking.

Ok, here we go!

SEL: Swedish Elite League (top league in Sweden)
SWE-2: HockeyAllsvenskan (division under SEL)
SWE-3: Division 1 (division under SWE-2)
U18 and U20: The U18/U20 leagues in Sweden
OHL: Ontario Hockey League
*: Player has been passed over in earlier draft(s).

1. Victor Hedman, D, MODO (SEL)
2. Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson, LW, Timrå (SEL)
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Leksand (SWE-2)
4. David Rundblad, D, Skellefteå (SEL)
5. Jacob Josefson, C, Djurgården (SEL)
6. Tim Erixon, D, Skellefteå (SEL)
7. Carl Klingberg, RW, Frölunda (U20)
8. Anton Rödin, LW, Brynäs (U20)
9. Simon Bertilsson, D, Brynäs (SEL/U20)
10. Marcus Johansson, C/LW Färjestad (SEL)
11. Marcus Krüger*, C/RW, Djurgården (SEL/U20)
12. Alexander Urbom, D, Djurgården (U20)
13. Anton Lander, C/LW, Timrå (SEL)
14. Patrik Cehlin, RW, Djurgården (U20)
15. Andreas Gröndahl*, RW, Södertälje (U20)
16. Mattias Lindström, LW/C, Skellefteå (U20)
17. Viktor Svedberg, D, Rögle (U20)
18. Anton Blomqvist*, D, Malmö (SWE-2/U20)
19. Jakob Silfverberg, RW/LW, Brynäs (SEL/U20)
20. Anders Nilsson*, G, Luleå (U20)
21. Martin Karlsson, RW, Leksand (U20)
22. Mark Owuya*, G, Almtuna (SWE-2)
23. Robin Lehner, G, Frölunda (U20)
24. Simon Löf, D, Brynäs (U20)
25. Peter Andersson, D, Frölunda (U20)
26. Jonathan Johansson, C, Frölunda (U20)
27. Carl Ackered, D, Djurgården (U20)
28. Anton Mylläri, D, Västerås (SWE-2/U20)
29. Ludwig Karlsson, LW, Linköping (U20)
30. William Wallén, LW, Mississugua (OHL)
31. Henrik Björklund, RW, Skåre (SWE-3)
32. Johannes Tornberg*, LW, Luleå (U20)
33. Adam Almquist, D, HV71 (U20)
34. Casper Carning, RW, Frölunda (U20)
35. Dennis Bozic*, D, Linköping (SEL/U20)
36. Stefan Espeland*, D, MODO (SEL/U20) - Norwegian
37. Fredrik Styrman, D, Luleå (SEL/U20)
38. Sebastian Idoff, Frölunda (U20)/Borås (SWE-2)
39. Eddie Läck*, G, Leksand (SWE-2)
40. Mattias Ekholm*, D, Mora (SWE-2/U20)
41. Alexander Andersson*, D, Huddinge (U20)
42. Simon Önerud*, LW, HV71 (SEL)
43. Martin Olsson, C, HV71 (U20)
44. Christian Fohlin, D, Frölunda (U18)
45. Maksim Matushkin*, D, Björklöven (U20)
46. Daniel Brodin*, RW, Djurgården (U20)
47. Viktor Ekbom*, D, Linköping (SEL)/Oskarshamn (SWE-2)
48. Henrik Hetta*, LW, Östersund/Brunflo (SWE-3)
49. John Norman, C, Djurgården (U20)
50. Marcus Guslin*, C, Östersund/Brunflo (SWE-3)


June 23, 2009

Pääjärvi - another year in Sweden or...?

Here comes some more news about the Swedish players available for the 2009 NHL Draft.

Left Winger Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson was interviewed by the newspaper Sydsvenskan, where he talks about the NHL Combine that took place about a month ago.

Magnus has said for a while now that he will play one more year with the SEL team Timrå IK before making the jump. This gets confirmed once again in this interview as he says that he told the NHL teams the same thing at the Combine. He also says following to Sydsvenskan though:

- If I get drafted by the right team, then maybe...

Sydsvenskan speculates that the right team could be a team that offers him a lucrative contract with promises of ice time in the NHL right away.

Pääjärvi-Svensson, who started his career in Malmö Redhawks (I love pointing that out), is ranked between 4 and 10 in the upcoming draft by the bigger scouting services.

June 22, 2009

Top ranked goalie to Canada next season?

Swedish goalie Robin Lehner is ranked first among European goaltenders in the CSB Final Rankings for the 2009 NHL Draft. He has spent the season in the top U20 league in Sweden with Frölunda and also was one of Sweden's goalies in the U18 World Championship this spring.

He is now looking at taking the next step in his career, which he talks about in an article at Hockeysverige.se. Frölunda's SEL team already got Johan Holmqvist in goal as the clear starter though, so he doesn't think a backup role with very limited ice time would be good for his development.

Is playing on Frölunda's U20 team not an option?
- Ever since I came to Frölunda, I have taken a new step every season: U16, J18, J20. It's really fun to play J20 hockey, but I still want to take a step forward and CHL is the best junior league in world. To play in front of sold-out arenas in Canada would be cool. In J20 you play in front of 25 people in Wallenstamhallen.

Is it the QMJHL, OHL or WHL that entices you?
- I guess it's the WHL I'm aiming for the most. I played an offensive-minded hockey that flings back and forth with Frölunda for three years now. QMJHL is a little bit the same, a very offensive-minded league. WHL has good hockey both defensively and offensively, there will be good games there. Plus there are long bus rides to tough away games that make you well prepared for life over there.

Lehner hasn't counted out the possibility to play for Frölunda next season though and will have a meeting with Frölunda GM Kent Norberg soon. Being loaned out to a team in HockeyAllsvenskan is another option he is open to.

June 21, 2009

No Vancouver Olympics for Sundin

Mats Sundin sticks by his decision of having retired from the Swedish national team, which he announced after the Olympic gold in 2006. The Swedish captain, who also is a 3-time World Champion, said the following to Expressen.

- Regardless if I play in the NHL next season or not, there will be no Olympics for me. I have not changed my stance since I stepped off the ice in Torino with the Olympic gold medal around my neck in 2006.


- Because it was the perfect end to a long career in Tre Kronor. To lead the Swedish national team against the best in the world and for the first time winning the Olympic gold when every country had all their stars there.

Sundin also talks about it being time for the new generation to take over. While not part of the new generation, a not so difficult guess is that Nicklas Lidström takes over the role as the captain.

For the next couple of weeks, Sundin will think about the future and he says a decision will be made sometime during the summer.

In other news surrounding the 2010 Swedish Olympic hockey team, former NHL defensemen Tommy Albelin and Mattias Norström have been announced as the assistant coaches to Bengt-Åke Gustafsson. Albelin has been an assistant coach in New Jersey Devils for the past two seasons, while Norström has no coaching experience at all.

June 18, 2009

Kenny Jönsson retires

Defenseman Kenny Jönsson announced today, at the age of 34, that he has played his last game of hockey. The announcement was made in the newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad, that had made a longer interview with Kenny.

- I feel that I'm satisfied. I don't have the passion that is needed to play another season. Maybe I've had enough after 19 seasons at senior level, he says.


- It feels good to have taken this decision and I'm proud to be able to finish at the top.

At the top is exactly where Jönsson finished. At the World Championship this year, he wasn't on the ice for a single goal against and had the best plus-minus in the entire tournament. His performance earned him a spot on the All-Star Team.

If we rewind back to the early 90s, we find an 18-year-old Kenny Jönsson in the Rögle BK team that got promoted to the highest division in Sweden for the first time since 1969. The year after, in the 1992-93 season, Jönsson was named the Rookie of the Year in the SEL and he eventually gets drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs at 12th overall in the 1993 NHL Draft.

Before he made the jump over the pond, he played in two World Junior Championship finals (two All-Star Team appearances and voted Best Defenseman in 1994), was the Junior of the Year in the SEL in 1994 and was part of Sweden's gold medal winning team at the 1994 Olympics.

Jönsson's time in the Leafs jersey was short-lived as he already after 89 games was traded to the New York Islanders in a deal that brought Wendel Clark back to Toronto.

The Islanders were where he ended up spending most of his NHL career and he played there from 1996 to 2004. While Jönsson doesn't exactly have much awards etc from his NHL career, except for a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team, he was always considered one of the most underrated players in the league. His career high ended up being 14 goals and 40 points in the 1997-98 season.

When the NHL lockout started in 2004, Kenny returned to his beloved Rögle that were outside the SEL again. When the NHL players returned to the NHL for the 2005-06 season, he decided to stay in Sweden. In this season, as a HockeyAllsvenskan player (!), he became the first player to win the Olympics and the World Championships in the same year (together with seven other Swedes). Not only that, he was also named the MVP of the Olympic hockey tournament and later was awarded The Golden Puck in Sweden.

Rögle, lead by Jönsson, ended up spending four seasons in HockeyAllsvenskan until they surprisingly were able to get promoted to the SEL after the 2007-08 season. This season, which ended up being his last, Rögle managed to stay in the SEL against all odds.

- I have won big titles, been promoted to the SEL with Rögle twice and received nice individual awards. I have gotten to experience so incredibly much more than I ever thought when I started.

Now he will concentrate on his own company and will for example open a car wash in Ängelholm, the town where Rögle plays.

An interesting note is that his older brother, Jörgen Jönsson, announced his own retirement earlier this year. Jörgen is not as known in North America as Kenny, but for example is a 2-time Olympic gold medalist, 2-time World Champion and 5-time Swedish Champion.

His career deserves its own post, so I guess I will save that one for later this summer.

June 13, 2009

Random news - Where will the monster go?

Goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who seems to be this year's Fabian Brunnström, has narrowed it down to four NHL teams for next season. According to Aftonbladet, he travelled today to North America to visit Colorado, San José, Dallas and Toronto.

Gustavsson beat Henrik Lundqvist's old SEL playoff record this season for number of minutes without letting a goal in with the new record being 222 minutes and 40 seconds. This accomplishment gave him the nickname "The Monster" in Swedish media, which still lives on.

He ended up leading his team Färjestads BK to the Swedish Championship this year. Then he was awarded The Golden Puck and helped Team Sweden getting the bronze medal in the World Championship in May.

Gustavsson will get the maximum rookie contract no matter where he ends up, so money isn't a factor. Instead he is looking for the team that feels the most right.


Swedish defenseman Patrik Hersley isn't exactly one of the more known Swedes in North America. This season he has been part of the Philadelphia Flyers, but has only played in the AHL and the ECHL.

After two seasons in the AHL and the ECHL with not much to show for it, he has decided to head back to Sweden. Hersley had one year left on his contract with the Flyers, but will now instead play that year with the team where his career started, Malmö Redhawks in HockeyAllsvenskan.

Hersley is still just 22 years old. So maybe he will make the jump across the pond again one day, if he can get his game going at home.


Speaking of Malmö Redhawks; Detroit's super scout Håkan Andersson has expressed interest in 19-year-old defenseman Anton Blomqvist, who plays for that team. Andersson says the following to the newspaper Sydsvenskan.

Yes, we are interested. That we are, says Håkan Andersson.

A comment like that from a scout doesn't say much, but I thought it was interesting as the scouting service Redline called Blomqvist "the most underrated player in the draft at any position" just before last year's draft.

In that draft, Blomqvist was passed over. A big reason for this was probably that he basically had not played anywhere beyond the Swedish junior leagues. This year he played with the Swedish U19 national team though and impressed when he got a shot with Malmö's senior team in HockeyAllsvenskan at the end of the season.

Andersson describes Blomqvist as a big and mobile defenseman, who needs to add more muscles. I would also add that he got a bit of a mean streak and I must say he became a bit of a favorite of mine because of his finish to the season. Next season he will play full-time on Malmö's senior team.

A player to keep an eye on.

June 08, 2009

2008-09 Swedish hockey awards

The NHL season is on the final stretch, which also means the NHL Awards are getting closer. While the NHL Awards won't come close to the excitement of the Stanley Cup final, it's still always a big thing in the NHL.

Here in Sweden, there has never been a big tradition of handing out individual awards in hockey. Last couple of years though, more and more awards have been popping up.

The latest one was added this year and goes to the best defenseman in the SEL. What it is called? Salming Trophy of course, after the great Börje Salming.

As I'm all for these trophies, I've put together a list with descriptions of them and this year's winners.


Le Mat Trophy
The Stanley Cup of the SEL, which the Swedish Champs win. It was donated by American film director Raoul Le Mat (founding father of ice hockey in Sweden) and MGM in 1926 and is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in Sweden. It has been modified throughout the years and the current one is a copy of the original one, since the original one was stolen in the 50s.
Winner: Färjestads BK

Guldhjälmen (The Golden Helmet)
The Lester B. Pearson Award of the SEL, which has been handed out since 1986. The MVP of the SEL as decided on by voting of its players. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Johan Davidsson, HV71

Guldpucken (The Golden Puck)
Goes to the best Swedish player of the season that is playing in Sweden and has been handed out since 1956. Wikipedia compare it with the Hart Memorial Trophy, but it's not really anything like it since it's just for Swedish players and since even HockeyAllsvenskan players can get it like Kenny Jönsson in 2006. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Jonas Gustavsson, Färjestads BK

Håkan Loob Trophy
The Maurice Richard Trophy of the SEL, which has been handed out since 2006. The team of the player with most goals gets 1000 SEK for each goal the player has scored during the season and the money goes to the club's youth program. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Per-Åge Skröder, MODO

Rookie of the Year
The rookie of the year in the SEL, which has been handed out since 1990. All players under 25 with less than 25 regular season games before the season and all juniors are eligible. 4 candidates for the award are announced throughout the season. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Victor Hedman, MODO

Honken Trophy
Goalie of the season in the SEL as decided on by the hockey journalists, which has been handed out since 2002. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Johan Holmqvist, Frölunda HC

Salming Trophy
Defenseman of the season in the SEL as decided on by the hockey journalists, which is being handed out for the first time this year.
Winner: Marcus Ragnarsson, Djurgårdens IF.

Rinkens Riddare (The Knight of the Rink)
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy of the SEL as decided on by the hockey journalists, which has been handed out since 1997. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Jörgen Jönsson, Färjestads BK

Coach of the Year
Coach of the season in the SEL as decided on by the hockey journalists, which has been handed out since 1992. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Per-Erik Johnsson and Tommy Samuelsson, Färjestads BK.

Junior of the Year
Swedish junior player of the season as decided on by the hockey journalists, which has been handed out since 1993. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Victor Hedman, MODO

Viking Award
The best Swedish player of the season in the NHL as decided by a vote among the players themselves, which has been handed out since 1976. You find a list of former winners here.
Winner: Nicklas Bäckström, Washington Capitals