Scoring Race Tundra in Sweden

By Peter Westermark

The cold weather that swept over Scandinavia this week is the perfect
climate for looking at the Elitserien scoring race. It has never been
colder, with no one at the top averaging over a point per game.

The players who were supposed to score have either had rough seasons or have
been injured. That is the main reason that players such as veterans Ulf
Söderström of Färjestad and Mikael Wahlberg of MoDo is forming the top duo
in league scoring. Granted, they are good playmakers, but the scoring race
this season looks very pale compared to last season when Huselius was
scoring in every rink in Sweden, and Jörgen Jönsson and Mikael Renberg, now
with the Toronto Maple Leafs, battled to catch up with him.

Jörgen Jönsson, a team mate with Ulf Söderström in Färjestad, had a slow
start but is coming to life as he has now scored 28 points in 32 games. He
should be over a point per game when the season’s over. Henrik Zetterberg,
perhaps the players that most anticipated would take over the torch passed
on by Huselius has been living in a mightmare offensively in Timrå. Zetter
has scored only three goals and 14 assists in 31 games, but it seems nobody
in hockey is disappointed with his contribution. It is claimed that he has
taken a more defensive role this season, and because his team is struggling
he doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to score either. Zetterberg has had a
lot of success offensively internationally with Team Sweden – he even scored
four times in a game against the pesky Finnish team in the Sweden Hockey
Games – and still has an outside shot of making the Swedish Olympic team.

The highest ranked National Hockey League prospect in the Elitserien scoring
race is Rickard Wallin, a lanky, slick centre whose rights are owned by the
Minnesota Wild after they traded Joe Juneau to Phoenix to get him. Wallin
was a top scorer during last year’s playoffs and appears to have established
himself as an offensive threat in the Swedish league. He has scored 25
points, 19 of them assists, in 32 games.

Other than that there are a lot of veterans among the top 25 scorers,
players that are popular with their own team but hardly qualify as stars.
Johan Davidsson, once a highly touted prospect with Anaheim, has racked up
26 points for HV71 so far. Brandon Convery, a former first round pick of the
Toronto Maple Leafs, has managed to score 11 times and assist 11 times,
giving him a total of 22 points for the season with Linköping.

But still, it’s nothing like last season. Huselius and Renberg left big
holes to fill after them, not only in Frölunda and Luleå, but in the entire
Swedish league.