Elitserien veterans in high demand

By Peter Westermark
More than six Elitserien veterans could be drafted this year, and there are two major factors that have created this demand. First, the expansion of the NHL obviously creates a need for more players. Second, some players are simply late bloomers, and there are diamonds in the rough in every league.

From the Elitserien, defensive defensemen seem to be the most attractive players. Brynäs´ Niclas Wallin and Malmö´s Andreas Lilja are solid stay-at-home types who can get involved physically. Lilja has expressed a desire to play in North America, but the wishes of Niclas Wallin still remain a secret.

Swedish champions Djurgården have been losing key players right and left it seems, and the situation could get worse. Espen Knutsen has already signed on to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and two more players could be on the verge of crossing the Atlantic to play. Unsung hero defenseman Mikael Magnusson had a very solid showing at the World Championships and in the Elitserien this season, and there is some buzz that he might be drafted this year. The 27-year-old defender scored 5 goals and 6 assists in 49 games and also racked up a solid 73 penalty minute total. The other player rumoured to be heading for the NHL is a bigger surprise, not so much around the name as the timing. Defensive center Niclas Falk, who had a poor season by his standards, has not been drafted after good seasons in the past when he was a key player in both Djurgården and for Team Sweden at the World Championships.

The captain of Team Norway, 27-year-old Färjestad winger Trond Magnussen has been rumoured to have drawn the interest from the St.Louis Blues. Magnussen remains has downplayed rumours by saying that he still have a few years left on his contract with Färjestad. This is not an issue however, as the agreement between the IIHF and the NHL states that any player can break a contract with his European club and sign a contract with an organization in the National Hockey League.

Luleå winger Jonas Rönnqvist rounds up the group. The 6´2 left winger had a good season with his club and played in his first World Championships in Russia.
Profiles of all these players have been added at the Sweden-page.