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

June 02, 2009

The SEL rejects transfer agreement

Once again, the SEL rejects a proposed transfer agreement between Sweden and the NHL. The SEL teams had a phone meeting this morning, where it was agreed on that they won't take the latest offer from the NHL.

According to Värmlands Folkblad, the proposal looked like this:
  • A team will get 225,000 dollars for a player that leaves to the NHL for the first time.
  • June 15 is the deadline for drafted players or players with no contract to leave for the NHL. July 15 this year, because of the late transfer agreement negotiations.
  • July 15 is the deadline for players drafted in the same summer. August 15 this year, because of the late transfer agreement negotiations.
  • The NHL rights will last for two more years, which means the NHL teams can wait up to four years after the draft to sign a player without losing the rights.
One of the main concerns is the money that the teams get for each player. Mike Helber, C.E.O. of Linköpings HC, says the following to Aftonbladet.

- We aren’t satisfied with the compensation that we would get from the NHL. Essentially we are open to an agreement, but on our conditions that benefits Swedish hockey. We for example want that you get more compensation for older players compare to younger players, says Mike Helber.


- For example if Johan Davidsson or Tony Mårtensson leaves for the NHL, the SEL clubs should get 500,000 to 600,000 dollars, says Mike Helber.

The first one of the deadlines is another issue, which the GM of Färjestads BK, Thomas Rundqvist, talks about at the official site of Färjestad. He understands the deadline of July 15 for recently drafted players, but says the following about the other deadline.

- Everything after June 1 makes it difficult for us in the work to get a replacement player for those we lose, says Rundqvist.

So most of it comes down to the SEL teams wanting to be able to find a replacement player in time and that they can afford a somewhat equally good player as the player leaving for the NHL.

The ball is now in IIHF's court and they will, together with the different European hockey associations, bring forward a new transfer agreement proposal between Europe and the NHL.