KARJALA CUP REVIEW
The Swedish top league Elitserien resumed play again yesterday after a shorter break because of the Karjala Cup in Finland, in which the Swedes finished last. The Finns won the tournament. They also had the most interesting team from an NHL viewpoint in the tournament as their team consisted of several good prospects, while the others just had a few.
The four brightest prospects on Finlands team, were in order:
LA Kings prospect Aki Berg who impressed with solid defensive play as well as good play with the puck. He scored 1 goal, was a plus 2, and recorded 8 PIM in three games in the tourament.
Vancouver Canucks rugged winger Jarkko Ruutu who scored 1 goal and 1 assist, and was a plus three in the tournament, with 4 PIM. This should be the last season in Europe for Ruutu, as he is ready to make the jump. The physical tools are there, and he seems to me to be quite consistent and he also has a mean streak which will only help him in Vancouver.
Jere Karalathi, drafted by the LA Kings, who seems to have rebounded from an off-season injury nicely. He scored 1 goal and 1 assist, was a +2, and recorded no penalty minutes.
ANDREAS KARLSSON PLAYING UP TO EXPECTATIONS: Andreas was asked to take aging injury-prone veteran Per-Erik Eklund’s spot and step up and become Leksand’s first line center this season, and he has responded extremely well. He has been a major factor in Leksand’s surprising start to the season (currently 1st in Elitserien with a 8-3-4 record). Maybe I am totally alone in liking Andreas as a player, but I still can’t figure out why the Flames used a draftpick on Erik Andersson when they have a younger, more skilled Swede consistently doing the things they look for in Andersson as well as being in the top ten in scoring in the Elitserien. Maybe there’s a lack of desire to play in Canada on Andreas’ part ? Oh well. Either they bring him over after this season, or I give up hoping for him to take a shot at the NHL. He has proven himself over and over again in Sweden, and it’s time for him to learn just how successful he can be in North America. He is currently seventh in the league in scoring, and he was chosen as one of the centers for Team Sweden in the Karjala Cup in Finland. He could be a third-line center in the NHL.
WHERE’S THE GRIT ?
Top prospects for the 1999 NHL Draft Daniel and Henrik Sedin has established themselves as Elitserien-regulars this season while playing together on a scoring-line in MoDo along with Czech national-team veteran Jan Alinc, and they’re not doing a bad job if you look at their stats. Daniel has two goals and five assists and is a plus five in nine games played, and Henrik has scored once, assisted on three and is a plus six in nine games.
These are very good numbers for two 18-year olds in a defensive- minded league, and their stock for the draft cannot possibly have been hurt by the fine start to the season that the Sedin’s have had. All the skills are in place, they both have very good vision and they can pass the puck excellently. They also seem to fully grasp the team-concept and they have already learned how to play defensive hockey.
There’s one thing lacking though, something you could immediately see in Peter Forsberg when he entered the Elitserien as a 17-year old : The will to win at all costs, the emotion.
After the 98/99 season, the Troja/Ljungby right winger Mattias Weinhandl became a wanted player in Swedish hockey. Even though Troja/Ljungby failed once again to qualify to the Elite League, the hockey world opened it’s eyes for Mattias and no less than 11 out of 12 teams in the Elite League (all but Luleå) wanted his signature on a contract.
MoDo finally became the team lucky enough to sign this, then 18-year-old, player who is the latest talent from Troja, in southern Sweden. However, the likely thing happened and he got drafted by the New York Islanders, and Mattias became “one of eight MoDo talents drafted this year” to the whole world although he probably hasn´t even tried on his MoDo jersey just yet. Though this is an extreme case, it tells something about how MoDo sometimes buys their prospect success. Still, this is not MoDo’s fault – it’s just a media trend to try to connect as many players as possible to MoDo nowadays, because MoDo has a good name that sells.
Mattias got a good start in the 98/99 season with 18 goals, 15 assists and 18 PIM in 28 Div. 1 games. Troja/Ljugby then qualified to Allsvenskan among with seven other leading Div. 1 teams and the harder competition here made Mattias’s stats decrease a little, but they are still very impressive for an 18-year-old:
LEAGUE TEAM GP G A TP PIM +/-
Allsvenskan Troja/L 14 2 4 6 10 -3
Play-off (to qualify round) Troja/L 5 4 3 7 4 +6 Read more»
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.