MEANWHILE, DOWN AT THE FARM
The Forgotten Man
Remember this guy? Picked in the 6th round by the Leafs in 1992, he made his debut on ‘The Rock’ last year and proceeded to net himself 50 points in 64 games including 40 assists. It’s kind of hard to take someone like Mikael Hakansson seriously amidst all of the free agent signings, trades, and prospects vying to get some time with the big club. However, the fact of the matter is, the Swede could yet be a pivotal player on Toronto’s side this year. As most know, Jonas Hoglund is on his way out of the organization and when that happens a spot will be open on the roster for a responsible winger who can bring something to the offensive party. Many assume that winger will be Jeff Farkas, but the feeling here is that Farkas needs to rip it up in St. John’s once more before he is ready for the big show. Enter Mikael Hakansson. The 27 year old winger signed with the Leafs expecting to be able to crack the starting line-up at some point last season. But as fate would have it, the decision to come overseas was made late, the forward was out of condition and ended up in the AHL where injuries made his first year in North America somewhat of a wash. This campaign though is a different story. When healthy, Hakansson showed good tenacity and two way play and as his statistics attest more than a little flair for the passing game. If Hoglund does go before Farkas is ready, a smart bettor might put a farthing or two on this ex-Djurgartens product giving Travis Green, Shayne Corson, and Gary Valk a run for their money on the left side. Given the chance, he might prove to be a poor man’s Jiri Lehtinen on the second line.