Kronwall having a strong rookie season in the AHL
One year ago the Red Wings top prospect Niklas Kronwall said in an interview with Hockey’s Future that he´d rather stay in Sweden for one more season than move on to North America and play in the AHL.
We all know how that story enfolded.
After signing a contract with the Detroit Red Wings, Kronwall knew that he would have a hard time of earning icetime with the Wings because their well-stocked defense.
“I just wanted to work hard in training camp and see where I ended up,” Kronwall said. “I’ve ended up in Grand Rapids. It feels good to be here. It’s a good team. I like the city. Everyone is nice here.”
Kronwall had a very good first training camp and proved that he will one day be a crucial piece of the Red Wings defensive corps. After the camp Kronwall accepted the demotion to the AHL and never looked back.
The 22-year-old defenseman made a smooth transition to the North American game and is one of the top scoring defensemen in the league. Currently he is tied for sixth place in defenseman scoring with 2 goals and 10 points in 18 games.
Kronwall´s play hasn´t gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"He’s playing almost 30 minutes per game,” said defenseman Anders Myrvold. “You can’t expect more from a young player like that.”
Stefan Liv has matured
Stefan Liv has been know in Sweden as being a great personality and a player who can´t stop joking. He still has some of the moves, but overall he is a different person both on and of the ice.
The now 23-year-old top goaltending prospect in the Red Wings organization has matured and grown as a person a lot since last year.
During the offseason, Liv spent most of his time practicing to make sure that he would retain his spot on the national team.
"I feel safer with the my playing style now, said Liv. More than last year."
The combination of these aspects has paid off on the ice.
Liv is now back with the national team after a great start to the new season where he has arguably been the best goalie in the league.
He leads all goalies with four shutouts in 21 games and has a save percentage of 92.71 (2nd overall). He is also ranked 3rd overall with a 2.51 GAA.
So far this season Liv has only played one game with the national team, partially because of an injury he picked up in the last tournament in Finland.
Filppula earns a third line job with Jokerit
19-year-old center Valtteri Filppula has had a good start in his first season with the Jokerit mens team.
After a strong preseason, Filppula showed enough to earn icetime on the third line on one of the top teams in the Finnish SM-Liga.
Filppula`s season began with a prospects training camp in Traverse City with the Detroit Red Wings. The young Finn had a good camp and distibuted some of skills that made him a third round draft pick in the 2002 NHL draft.
Returning back to Finland, he managed to keep his form and play well. So far this season Filppula has scored 2 goals and 6 points in the first 22 games in the SM-Liga which is good enough for a tied eighth place in team scoring.
This season Filppula will also play a crutial role with the Finnish U-20 national team as they host the U-20 WJC. He is expected to be the first line center on the team and lead the way for the hosting nation.
So far this season he has played in one tournament with the junior national team, recording 2 assists in 3 games.
Late-rounder, Stefan Blom stays in the juniors
Last year’s sixth round pick, 194th overall, Stefan Blom has been playing with the Djurgården juniors.
He had a good preseason camp with the Detroit Red Wings and returned home full of energy.
During the preseason in Sweden, Blom had the chance to practice with Djurgården´s men’s team where he earned rave reviews from the coach.
His strong performance earned him a place on the team as they played in a preseason torurnament in Switzerland. Blom didn´t get much icetime and was sent down to the juniors as the team returned back from Switzerland.
Blom has been playing a lot with the juniors as he has been their top defenseman. He has managed to score 1 goal and 4 points in 17 games this season.
The young defenseman has been absent from the Swedish junior national team and will most likely not be a part of the WJC team in late December this year.
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