BIG YEAR COMING UP FOR MANY TOP PROSPECTS
For many young players in the Swedish Leagues, the 98/99-season will be a crucial one. From Mikael Holmvkist and the Sedin-Twins to Leafs 1997 9th round pick Jonathan Hedström – all have one goal in common: Making it to the NHL, or at least getting closer to the league.
Among new interesting names this season in Swedish Hockey, former 1st round draftpicks Jesper Mattsson(Calgary) and Stefan Bergkvist(Pittsburgh) are included along with Norwegian defenseman Anders Myrvold who wasn’t given a Qualifying Offer by the Bruins earlier this summer.
For all of these three players, this season is all abnout strengthening their status as prospects and earn themselves another shot in the NHL. With Mattsson and Myrvold, it was the most common reason of all why they didn’t make it: Quite simply, they weren’t impressive enough in the AHL to be called-up permanently to the NHL. For Bergkvist, it was a tumour that sidelined him for a long time, but now he’s healthy again and back in Leksand to try and find his game once again.
Reigning swedish champions Färjestad are a team that has a couple of NHL-prospects with big years coming up. Mikael Holmkvist, Kristian Huselius and Jonas Elofsson are three prospects who spent most of last season on the bench, and they must now prove them selves to be atleast regulars in the Elite-League. If they spend another year on the bench, their development will be atleast slowed down and possibly hurt. Young players spending a lot of time on the bench just shows that they should look for a team that they will get a lot of ice-time on. Due to the Bosman-ruling every player – regardless of age- is considered an “unrestricted free agent”, so when a players contract runs out so they can choose any team who’s offer they like.
Another player to look out for is Mora center Mikael Simons, who was drafted by the Kings in 1996. He is big and strong and a good faceoff man. Simons turned down several offers from Elite-League teams this summer, to stay in Mora who play’s in Sweden’s Division 1 (the league one level below the Elite-League) for another year. He could surprise alot of people this year.
For a couple of players this season in the Elite-League should be the last one before they try the NHL, and the ones in this group include: Daniel Tjärnkvist (FLA), Kim Johnsson (NYR) and Samuel Påhlsson (COL). Usually, about 10 players leave the Elite-League every year to play in North America, and a couple of prospects other than these three will surely be top candidates to leave for North America when this season ends