HUSELIUS HEADING TOWARDS BREAKTHROUGH SEASON
Florida Panthers prospect Kristian Huselius has been on the team that won the Swedish Championship for the last two years. But, leading up to this season he has had almost nothing to do with Färjestad’s on-ice success. After all, it’s hard to score goals and put up points when you’re sitting on the bench. Huselius is also the kind of player who can’t be thrown in for a shift or two and do a decent checking job – his game is offense, and offense only.
Färjestad’s coach Bo Lennartsson claims that Huselius has added defense to his repertoire this season and that is the reason why he is now a regular on Färjestad’s second line. Huselius is not the defensive liability he once was, but he is still only average at best when compared to other Elite-League players. Also, the main criticism of him – from NHL scouts particularly – is still true: Huselius looks very thin and is a very soft player.
While knowing his weaknesses, Färjestad is willing to put up with that because of the good things he brings to the club. He has very good vision, and he is an excellent stickhandler – probably the best Sweden has produced in many years. So far in the Elite-League, he has scored 3 goals in five games, 1 of them a game-winning goal. He also added an overtime game-winning goal in the Euroleague. With a Färjestad first line made up by Elite-League stars like Jörgen Jönsson, Pelle Prestberg and Roger Johansson, Huselius gives them a scoring-threat from the second line.
Something also has to be said about the way Huselius scores his goals. He isn’t the type of player who scores the garbage goals; instead he is the kind who often makes a nice deke or two and a fancy move, before unleashing a quick wristshot or a deadly backhand. His slapshot appears to be below average, but it’s hard to pass fair judgment on that because he seems to avoid using it whenever possible.
Huselius will surely march on this season and end up with good stats at year’s end, and have his status as a legitimate NHL prospect rejuvenated. However, he won’t be ready to try the NHL after this season. It’s the negatives mentioned above that will stop him, temporarily at least, from being an NHL player. His weak physical ability should sort itself out with time if he takes care of himself during the off-seasons that follow.
Now, if only Anaheim’s first-rounder Mikael Holmkvist could get off the bench in Färjestad. That would give the fans a young tandem at forward to watch!