2002/03 SEL Preview

By pbadmin

The Swedish Elite League has just started and here’s a team by team preview. The 12 teams are ranked (1-12) starting with Frölunda, the team we believe will finish first after the regular season.

1. Frölunda

+ Two great goalies in Finnish star Fredrik Norrena and prospect Henrik Lundqvist. Frölunda is team with many prospects and they are all one year older and one year stronger. The “kindergarten-line” (dagiskedjan) with Joel Lundqvist, Jari Tolsa and Magnus Kahnberg is absolutely lethal.
Coach Conny Evensson is most definitely a strength too. He is among the most beloved coaches and leaders in Swedish hockey today. His experience and knowledge is most valuable. It’s also very positive that Frölunda’s perhaps most important player, Jonas Johnsson, decided to stay in Sweden after being drafted by the St. Louis Blues this summer.

– With many young players on the team there’s naturally a lack of experience. There are however some veterans that should be able to help out. Frölunda has earlier played without any pressure, but this year many predict that they can go all the way, and the fans’ demands are higher.

Most important player
Jonas Johnsson

Most points 2002/03
Niklas Andersson

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Jari Tolsa

Rookie of the year candidates
Jonas Leetma
Mikael Svensk
Mattias Luukkonen

Best drafted prospect
Joel Lundqvist

Best undrafted prospect
Jonas Leetma

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Henrik Lundqvist (NY Rangers)
* Mikael Svensk (Edmonton)
* Magnus Kahnberg (Carolina)
* Jens Karlsson (Los Angeles)
* Joel Lundqvist (Dallas)
* Alexander Steen (Toronto)
* Jari Tolsa (Detroit)
Fredrik Norrena (Tampa Bay)
Ronnie Sundin (NY Rangers)
Niklas Andersson (Quebec)
Mikael Andersson (Buffalo)
Patrik Carnbäck (Montreal)
Jonas Johnsson (St. Louis)
Peter Ström (Montreal)

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1. Färjestad

+ Last years outstanding champions Färjestad has a strong team this season as well. There are several true veterans and leaders on the team and also plenty of guys that can do the unexpected and win the game. Färjestad’s squad is the strongest in the elite league and they can dress 3 top-lines.
The defensemen are all quality players. 6 of them are highly-skilled offensively with Thomas Rhodin being the natural finisher from the blue-line.

– While the defensemen are obviously skilled there aren’t many defensive specialists, in fact Calgary draftee Jonas Frögren is the only one. The team also plays very offensively and it sometime causes give-aways and breakaways for the other team.
The loss of goalie Martin Gerber might also hurt. The Finnish replacement Sinuhe Wallinheimo was a solid goalie in Germany but has yet to prove himself in the SEL. The losses of Mathias Johansson (to Calgary), Rikard Wallin (to Minnesota) and Sergei Fokin (to Borås) may also cause some problems.

Most important player
Jörgen Jönsson

Most points 2002/03
Jörgen Jönsson

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Pär Bäcker

Rookie of the year candidates
no rookies on the team

Best drafted prospect
Pär Bäcker

Best undrafted prospect
Fredrik Sundin

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Jonas Frögren (Calgary)
* Pär Bäcker (Detroit)
Radek Hamr (Ottawa)
Marko Jantunen (Calgary)
Jörgen Jönsson (Calgary)
Peter Nordström (Boston)
Pelle Prestberg (Anaheim)

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3. Brynäs

+ Two strong goalies. Jamie Ram is a potential star and was among the best goalies in Finland last season. Back-up Johan Asplund (drafted by the Rangers) is also a solid goalie. Many people believe that Brynäs is a team with only veterans. But the truth is that there are several young and hungry players such as Kristoffer Jobs, Jonas Floberg and Simon Östlund. Many of these youngsters have a good shot at breakthroughs this season.

– The mobility of the defensemen. Some of them are pretty slow. The team’s success depends a lot on the veterans, Sjödin, Larsson, Molin etc, and if someone gets injured they are very tough to replace.

Most important player
Jan Larsson

Most points 2002/03
Ove Molin

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Niklas Anger

Rookie of the year candidates
Simon Östlund

Best drafted prospect
Jonas Soling

Best undrafted prospect
Adam Andersson

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Johan Asplund (NY Rangers)
* Henrik Petré (Washington)
Jamie Ram (NY Rangers)
Pär Djoos (Detroit)
Daniel Johansson (NY Islanders)
Henrik Rehnberg (New Jersey)
Tommy Sjödin (Minnesota)
Niklas Anger (Montreal)
Kyösti Karjalainen (Los Angeles)
Tommi Miettinen (Anaheim)
Per Mårs (Columbus)
Jonas Soling (Vancouver)

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4. HV 71

+ A great goalie in Stefan Liv. He is probably playing his last season with HV 71 for a long while and is hoping to make the Red Wings next season. HV 71 has 5 Finnish players and all of them are essential for the team. Jani Hassinen is perhaps the most interesting one and is expected to put up fine numbers. Three interesting rookies also, Pär Arlbrandt, Sebastian Meijer and Alexander Hulth have all the potential to be successful. Arlbrandt is the most exciting one coming off a terrific season in the 2nd-tier league. HV 71 has indeed a good team this year and could be an outsider to win the championships.

– Boo Ahl is a bit questionable as the back-up for Liv. Ahl’s best years are behind them and the few games he played last season were less successful.
Also the team is by many considered as the “nicest” one. There aren’t many physical players on the team so they could have some problems playing against the more physical teams like Djurgården and Luleå.

Most important player
Stefan Liv

Most points 2002/03
Jani Hassinen

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Daniel Ljungqvist

Rookie of the year candidates
Pär Arlbrandt
Sebastian Meijer
Alexander Hulth
Ola Svanberg
Gustav Engman

Best drafted prospect
Stefan Liv

Best undrafted prospect
Ola Svanberg

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Stefan Liv (Detroit)
* Björn Melin (NY Islanders)
Per Gustafsson (Florida)
Mikael Lindman (Detroit)
Johan Davidsson (Anaheim)

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5. Djurgården

+ A strong and physical team. Most of Djurgården’s players are well capable of playing a tough and physical game. The defense looks strong with Red Wings draftee Niklas Kronwall (who will likely get his break this season), stay-at-home defenseman Mikael Magnusson is tough to beat one-on-one and Björn Nord is good two-way defenseman. There are also plenty of gifted forwards on the team. Kristofer Ottosson is perhaps the most talented one, and will need to bounce back from last year’s less successful season. With Ottosson on top of his game and Mikael Johansson and Fredrik Lindquist joining in, Djurgården will score a lot of goals.

– Nils Ekman, Jan Pardavy, Mikael Håkanson, Leif Rohlin and Edvin Frylén have all left the team and they will be hard to replace. Goaltending might become a problem as well. Joaquin Gage has not been very impressive during the preseason and the likely back-up, Björn Bjurling has very little experience. He was a great goalie in the 2nd-tier league last season, but Elitserien is quite different.

Most important player
Nichlas Falk

Most points 2002/03
Kristofer Ottosson

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Niklas Kronwall

Rookie of the year candidates
Björn Bjurling
Daniel Fernholm
Staffan Kronwall
Nicklas Eckerblom
Christian Eklund
Peter Lindelöf
Daniel Rafner

Best drafted prospect
Niklas Kronwall

Best undrafted prospect
Björn Bjurling

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Nicklas Eckerblom (Minnesota)
* Daniel Fernholm (Pittsburgh)
* Niklas Kronwall (Detroit)
* Staffan Kronwall (Toronto)
* Johan Forsander (Detroit)
Joaquin Gage (Edmonton)
Per-Anton Lundström (Phoenix)
Björn Nord (Washington)
Mikael Johansson (Quebec)
Fredrik Lindquist (Edmonton)
Kristofer Ottosson (NY Islanders)
Mathias Tjärnqvist (Dallas)
Matthias Trattnig (Chicago)

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6. Södertälje

+ Södertälje’s most important player is of course last year’s rookie of the year in Sweden, goalie Rolf Wanhainen. He can really win a game on his own. There are some great new signings as well. Players like Leif Rohlin, Kristian Gahn, Antti Törmänen and Patrik Zetterberg will surely have a big impact on the team.
Zetterberg has had a great pre-season being the best scorer of all SEL players. Hopefully Zetterberg will find his game again after some minor set backs the last couple of seasons, he could be a top scorer when the season is over. At least he has got the potential for it. Södertälje’s perhaps most offensively gifted player Peter Larsson will likely also contribute big-time.

– The team more or less depends on goalie Rolf Wanhainen. If he plays good (and he often does) the team plays good too, but when he has a bad day the whole team can fall to pieces. Södertälje’s roster lacks depth, they have great top players but down at the 3rd and 4th line there could be problems. Scoring was a major weakness last season and the goals must come more regularly this time.

Most important player
Rolf Wanhainen

Most points 2002/03
Peter Larsson

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Mattias Carlsson

Rookie of the year candidates
Mats Christéen
Dragan Umicevic

Best drafted prospect
Gabriel Karlsson

Best undrafted prospect
Dragan Umicevic

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Mats Christéen (Nashville)
* Gabriel Karlsson (Dallas)
Peter Popovic (Montreal)
Leif Rohlin (Vancouver)
Juha Lind (Minnesota)
Jukka Tillikainen (Los Angeles)
Antti Törmänen (Ottawa)

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7. MoDo

+ A pretty young team with several players that could have a breakout year (Peter Öberg, Magnus Hedlund, Mattias Wennerberg etc). MoDo also combines strength and speed in an impressive way. Most of their players are fine skaters and many also enjoy playing physical. So it will not be easy to stand up against MoDo’s intensive way of playing hockey. The power-play will hopefully also be successful with Pierre Hedin and Dusan Milo as lethal weapons from the blue line.

– The loss of Mattias Weinhandl, Mikael Wahlberg, Richard Lintner, Lars Jansson… well the list can be made long. MoDo has lost many of their best players and it will be very tough for the new guys to replace them. With many players leaving there are naturally many new players coming. No less the 8 of them are foreigners and it may take a while before they all know each other and play like a team.

Most important player
Magnus Wernblom

Most points 2002/03
Peter Högardh

Breakthrough 2002/2003
Mattias Wennerberg

Rookie of the year candidates
Martin Wilde
Jonas Almtorp

Best drafted prospect
Joakim Lindström

Best undrafted prospect
Magnus Hedlund

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Pierre Hedin (Toronto)
* Erik Lewerström (Phoenix)
* Jonas Almtorp (Edmonton)
* Joakim Lindström (Columbus)
* Mattias Karlin (Boston)
* Kim Staal (Montreal)
* Mattias Wennerberg (Chicago)
Peter Högardh (NY Islanders)
Anders Söderberg (Boston)
Magnus Wernblom (Los Angeles)

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8. Linköping

+ Linköping has made some great signings for this season. Players like Mikael Håkanson (Djurgården), Andreas Pihl (MoDo), Thomas Johansson (AIK) and Jan Mertzig (Klagenfurter) brings experience and depth to the team. Two other great signings are prospects Tim Eriksson and Andreas Holmqvist from Hammarby, both with big potential. The team hunger for victory and their goal is to become champions in 4 years time. This year Linköping has been forecasted by experts to end up on the lower half of the table so they have much to play for.
Linköping’s defense looks solid and most of the players are big and strong.

-There are many new players on the team and the question is if Linköping will be able to play like a team. The roster looks a bit uneven with some great names and some big question marks. The Goalie-duo Mikael Sandberg and Daniel Sperrle is not the strongest one. Sperrle was successful in the 2nd-tier league last season but has yet to prove him self good enough for the SEL. Sandberg on the other hand is among the best goalies in the league, but he tends to be somewhat inconsistent. Linköping is probably the team in SEL playing under most pressure and the odds for coach Mats Weiderstål to be the first coach in SEL to be fired are quite low.

Most important player
Mikael Sandberg

Most points 2002/03
Mikael Håkanson

Breakthrough 2002/03
Andreas Holmqvist

Rookie of the year candidates
Andreas Holmqvist
Tim Eriksson
Magnus Gästrin
Johan Lindström

Best drafted prospect
Andreas Holmqvist

Best undrafted prospect
Daniel Sperrle

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Andreas Holmqvist (Tampa Bay)
* Tim Eriksson(Los Angeles)
Jan Mertzig (NY Rangers)
Barry Richter (Hartford)
Per Eklund (Detroit)
Mikael Håkanson (Toronto)

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9. Luleå

+ Luleå has an overall strong team. In net Daniel Henriksson is the undisputed #1 goalie. On defense there is a good mix of defensive players and guys like Petter Nilsson with great offensive skills. There are also some high-scoring forwards on the team, play-maker Stefan Nilsson, former NHLer Jonas Rönnqvist, the talented sniper Linus Fagemo, etc… It is important for Luleå to find that special scorer. The team had major problems scoring last season. Hopefully the above mentioned player, Linus Fagemo, can contribute. He has had a great preseason and people are now optimistic in Luleå.

– Luleå’s back-up goalie Gusten Törnqvist has never played a single elite league game. Is he good enough to start if Henriksson gets hurt? Scoring is the major concern though. Some players must step up and start contributing. Luleå will not win the championships but with a bit of luck they can make the playoffs.

Most important player
Roger Åkerström / Daniel Henriksson

Most points 2002/03
Stefan Nilsson

Breakthrough this season
Linus Fagemo

Rookie of the year candidates
Gusten Törnqvist
Johan Fransson
Jonas Hägerbäck
Emil Lundberg

Best drafted prospect
Magnus Nilsson

Best undrafted prospect
Johan Fransson

Drafted players
Jonas Andersson-Junkka (Pittsburgh)
Johan Finnström (Calgary)
Jan Sandström (Anaheim)
Pavel Skrbek (Pittsburgh)
Roger Åkerström (Vancouver)
Stefan Nilsson (Vancouver)
Magnus Nilsson (Detroit)
Jonas Rönnqvist (Anaheim)

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10. Leksand

+ Leksand has a good mix of young and old players. They have some of the most talented prospects in Sweden (Lars Jonsson, Daniel Widing etc) and some really valuable veterans in Christer Olsson, Jens Nielsen etc. Robert Nilsson is a very interesting player. The highly-touted son of Kent Nilsson will enter his rookie season as a regular and he could be an outsider for the Rookie of the Year award. Leksand has 2 strong goalies in Sean Gauthier and Jonas Fransson. They are pretty much equal but the more experienced Gauthier will probably start most games.

– The team has not the same depth as many of the other teams. There are many prospects that are yet not fully established. Scoring could become a problem as well. Leksand hasn’t got many snipers and the team will rely a lot on Mikael Karlberg, Jens Nielsen and Mike Stapleton; three players that are all better at delivering the puck, although capable of scoring. Hopefully some younger players like Daniel Widing, Niklas Persson can step up and put some pucks in the net.

Most important player
Jens Nielsen

Most points 2002/03
Mikael Karlberg

Breakthrough this season
Lars Jonsson

Rookie of the year candidates
Jörgen Sundkvist
Johan Eneqvist
Robert Nilsson

Best drafted prospect
Lars Jonsson

Best undrafted prospect
Robert Nilsson

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
* Jonas Elofsson (Edmonton)
* Lars Jonsson (Boston)
* Johan Eneqvist (Montreal)
* Daniel Widing (Nashville)
Sean Gauthier (Winnipeg)
Greg Brown (Buffalo)
Daniel Jardemyr (Winnipeg)
Christer Olsson (St. Louis)
Niklas Eriksson (Philadelphia)
Tomas Forslund (Calgary)
Mike Stapleton (Chicago)

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11. MIF Redhawks

+ MIF Redhawks has some great prospects in Mika Hannula, Franz Nielsen and Janos Vas. All three of them are likely to celebrate success this season. Hannula played very well last season but didn’t produce any big numbers, hopefully this year he does. The forwards in MIF Redhawks look really strong with key players like Juha Riihijärvi, Marcus Thuresson and Toivu Suursoo.

– The teams does not have any solid goalies, the #1 goalie Andreas Hadelöv did not impress last season and will need to bounce back this year. Back-up Robert Borgqvist has been playing in the 3rd-tier league the last couple of seasons. Also the defense looks a bit thin and the average age is high, they will have to rely on the veteran defensemen to take their responsibility.

Most important player
Juha Riihijärvi

Most points 2002/03
Juha Riihijärvi

Breakthrough 2002/03
Mika Hannula

Rookie of the year candidates
Johan Björk
Henrik Blomqvist
Andreas Valdix

Best drafted prospect
Franz Nielsen

Best undrafted prospect
Andreas Valdix

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
Peter Andersson (NY Rangers)
* Johan Björk (Ottawa)
* Mika Hannula (Minnesota)
* Franz Nielsen (NY Islanders)
* Janos Vas (Dallas)
Peter Hasselblad (Calgary)
David Petrasek (Detroit)
Roger Öhman (Winnipeg)
Jesper Mattson (Calgary)
Juha Riihijärvi (Edmonton)
Daniel Rydmark (Los Angeles)
Toivu Suursoo (Detroit)
Marcus Thuresson (NY Islanders)

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12. Timrå

+ The team everyone is expecting to finish dead last has nothing to loose. They want to prove everyone one wrong and playing without pressure is a big benefit. Timrå’s roster, overall, is stronger this season and there are some youngsters with big potential (Christian Söderström, Sanny Lindström, Niklas Nordgren etc).

– The loss of Henrik Zetterberg! He was everything for Timrå last season. A couple of players must step up and take over the leading and scoring role that Zetterberg had. Very few players with SEL-experience.

Most important player
Kimmo Kapanen

Most points 2002/03
Markus Matthiasson

Breakthrough this season
Niklas Nordgren

Rookie of the year candidates
Martin Lindman
Sanny Lindström
Mats Hansson
Niklas Zetterström

Best drafted prospect
Niklas Nordgren

Best undrafted prospect
Per Hallin

Drafted players (* = still a prospect)
Robert Jindrich (San José)
* Sanny Lindström(Colorado)
* Pär Styf (Philadelphia)
* Niklas Nordgren(Carolina)
* Christian Söderström(Detroit)
Tommi Rajamäki (Toronto)
Markus Åkerblom (Winnipeg)