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.
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.
Five swedish junior players – Christian Berglund, Jonas Elofsson and Mikael Holmkvist of Färjestad and the Sedin-twins of MoDo – are finding themselves caught in the middle of a controversy which has lost all proportions.
In mid-june, the five above-mentioned players were selected for a junior-torunament with Sweden’s National Junior Team in Lake Placid and all of them accepted. But, a couple of weeks ago they made a U-Turn and said that they wouldn’t play. Their decision was made after the coaches of their respective clubs had talked to them and said that they needed them for pre-season games which they would miss if they accepted the invitation to play for the national team.
When the coaches spoke to these five players they said something along the lines of “We want you to play all pre-season games, because we feel that you should get the chance to earn yourself a spot as a regular on the team this season”, which could be interpreted as “if you leave you’ll sit on the bench when you get home”. Since neither of these players had been regulars on their team last season, and crucial years of their development are coming up, they felt that they should stay in Sweden and play the pre-season games.
MoDos great youth (5/1/98)
The history of MoDos fine youth program started in 1988. Yes MoDo has had youth stars even before this year. Thomas Gradin, Bo Berglund and Anders Hedberg all played in MoDo at an early age, but it was in 1988 that things really started to happen.
Angermanland has their best roster ever in the TV Puck, and the final against Stockholm was no problem at all. Markus Näslund who played for Ovik at that time, scored a hat trick and was choosen as best forward. The main thing that made it possible to start this youth program was the building of the new arena, the MoDo Hall. This made it possible to train and play more. The Hockey gymnasium woke up again after a few years without any big stars emerging. In the autumn of 89 all the players born in 1973 started playing at the hockey gymnasium. Those players included Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Hans Jonsson,Magnus Wernblom,Fredrik Bergqvist, Henrik Gradin and Andreas Salomonsson, all of whom played in the swedish league for MoDo.