18 April 2019

Interview with Johan Nilsson of Elite ProspectsEP



Robin @ CI - Johan, to begin, tell my readers what Elite Prospects is all about and what type of a service EP provides to regular viewers of your distinct web pages.


Johan @ EP - Elite Prospects is a hockey player database with focus on all hockey leagues of the world.  Aside from providing detailed player statistics of active and former players, we also publish player transactions under a couple of different categories.  To sum it up, it is a good place for hockey fans that want to be up to date with the latest player movements and at the same time check out their stats.


Robin @ CI -  After the comments Patrick Berglund made previously and 'the list' the Swedish coaching and developmental program came out with a few years ago to enhance the Swedish junior program, perhaps you could tell me what the state of Swedish hockey is in right now?


Johan@ EP - Swedish hockey is doing pretty well now.  Men’s hockey has been doing well for many years, but our junior hockey program was going downhill 5-10 years ago. We were not getting any medals at the U18 and U20 world championships and not really producing high caliber prospects.  The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation realized that something had to be done and in 2002 they gathered close to 100 people that were involved in hockey in some way, scouts, coaches etc.  


The main person behind this was Tommy Bousted, head of development of hockey at theswe09 federation, and together with all these experts he formed a 10-year plan that would once again make Sweden an elite hockey nation, not only at senior level, but at junior level as well.

A lot of action points were taken, such as producing material for reading, making sure coaches in junior hockey got a better education and another major point was to on regular basis have prospect camps for the best players ages U16-U20.  The attitude of the players was really emphasized as many coaches thought the Swedish juniors at the time were too lazy and not willing to practice hard enough.

It all worked out well and Swedish junior hockey bounced back faster than expected. We have now several strong age groups, such as the 90’s and 91’s that are considered to be among the very best to ever come out of Sweden, and the coming years look pretty good as well.


Robin @ CI - Fabulous Johan.  Give the readers some insight into the top players from the final two drafts and why you think our subject, Mattias Tedenby of the New Jersey Devils' system, is a standout.


Johan @ EP - The two past NHL Entry drafts have been successful for Sweden. Last year, 2008, we saw three players go in the first round: Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), Anton Gustafsson (Washington) and Tedenby (HV71).  Flashy defenseman Karlsson is a high-risk high-reward type of player with exceptional hockey sense and poise, while Gustafsson is a solid two-way center with speed and grit.  Gustafsson, however, been battling injuries the last couple of seasons.  Hopefully he can stay healthy and do well in the minors.


The third Ted01one, Tedenby, is as spectacular as they come.  A short and high-scoring winger with unreal speed, acceleration, and balance.  He is also a feisty player. This is a guy that will be a fan favorite wherever he plays.  Having had the pleasure of seeing him live in action close to a 50 times, I am certain of this.  He stickhandles so smoothly through traffic and every other goal scored is more or less a highlight reel goal.  Despite his disadvantage in size, I am pretty sure he will be a very capable NHL player.  He appears not only to have the skill, but also the attitude to excel at all levels.

As for the 2009 NHL draft, well, this was the best draft ever from a Swedish point of view (three Swedes in the top 10 and seven Swedish players in the first round).  The much talked about Victor Hedman is bound to have a great NHL career, but I would not be surprised if Phoenix pick Oliver Ekman-Larsson turns out to be just as good, or even better.  He has all the tools except strength, but that is something he should be able to fix with some weight lifting.  Media always likes to compare Swedish defensemen with Nik Lidström, but if there is one player that I feel deserves that bill, it is Ekman-Larsson. His calmness, stick work and hockey sense really reminds of Lidström.

Edmonton Oilers selected speedy winger Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson and this is also pick I like. He has the potential to become a very high-scoring potential and is much like Tedenby, a quite spectacular player. What I like the most about Pääjärvi is the way he beats defensemen simply with speed and drives to the net with great confidence.

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