18 April 2019

Interview with J.Nilsson of Elite Prospects

22 August 2010


Good day hockey enthusiasts. Yesterday I spoke with Johan Nilsson of Elite Prospects to get a glimpse into the general state of Swedish hockey during the National Hockey League off-season and more specifically, about a youngster who will be making a push to wear an Edmonton Oilers' jersey this autumn, Magnus Pääjärvi.



EP logo 2Robin @ CI - Johan, you have such a unique niche on the web. What would you have newer readers know about Elite Prospects?  I am sure our regular readers would be interested in learning what is new at the site as well.

Johan @ EP - Well, it is a continuously growing hockey statistical database and transactions portal. Our goal is to be the most complete and informative hockey resource on the web and offer readers the latest hockey transactions around the world and comprehensive team and player stats. We also provide unique data that other hockey websites do not offer. This summer we released our new team pages that include team standings throughout history, arena information, retired numbers, franchise scoring histories and much more.


Robin @ CI – I often use the site for a reference and it has certainly grown. I am sure there are a number of stories running in Sweden and there is an appetite for wondering what the buzz is here. Have you noticed any trends in Swedish hockey this NHL off-season?

How are the stories of Henrik Sedin receiving the key to his hometown, the outlook for Victor Hedman in Tampa Bay now that Steve Yzerman is running things, or the flat-lined state of the New York Ranger's roster and how that has incensed the media and fans about Henrik Lundqvist's situation?

Johan @ EP - Actually, it is surprisingly quiet. Usually the NHL talk here in Sweden does not start until a week or so before the regular season begins. The stories we get now are usually about Swedes performing well at rookie camps and such. Some interviews with younger prospects where they speak about their chances of making the big team.


Robin @ CI – I see. A pair of young Swedish forwards are without contracts for the coming season after posting some nice totals and establishing themselves as offensive threats in the NHL. What are your thoughts on Niclas Bergfors and Patric Hörnqvist during this summer and what the future holds for them?

 Johan @ EP - I think they are both solid players that ought to have pretty long careers. I do not consider them to be ELITE players, but still capable of putting good numbers and making their teams better. I am a fan of Hörnqvist, who I think is a great team player and has a great attitude.


Robin @ CI – Johan, our readers and I would love to hear your thoughts on Sweden's entry at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp. Many of these players are focused on making the World Junior squads for the winter months, so this does have some credibility, doesn't it? What did you see from some players and in particular, what was the 'hunger' level of some of these players and who impressed you during the tournament involving the Finland, USA, and Sweden sides?

 Johan @ EP - Yeah, I did catch two games during the tournament. It was however streamed hockey and the live feed could have been better. What struck me the most about the Swedish team was how well they skated and stickhandled. The most recent junior crops here in Sweden have really played an offensive brand of hockey in high speed and a lot of individual skill. They are an entertaining group to follow.

I focused on the Swedish players and I was probably the most impressed with Anton Lander (EDM), Adam Larsson (undrafted), Calle Järnkrok (DET) and goalie Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel (ATL), who outshone the more talked about Robin Lehner (OTT). The top names, including Magnus Pääjärvi Svensson (EDM) and Jacob Josefson (NJ), did well, but did not stand out as much as I had hoped.

 Magnus Paajarvi

Robin @ CI - I would love to get into the mercurial talents of Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson. The Edmonton Oilers have a number of incredible kids coming into training camp in just less than a month. While Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle get the lion's share of ink spilled on their behalf, many in the know have their eye also peeled for Paajarvi to make this team come fall and to a lesser degree, a more mature but less spectacular Linus Omark.

Pääjärvi has a tremendous upside as a player and has grown proficient in many areas of the game aside from offense. One can certainly say that his mere presence at training camp this fall will have an effect on a team that has a lack of proven scoring threats on the wing. What can you tell us about his play and what he brings to the Oil?

 Johan @ EP - Both Omark and Pääjärvi will be interesting to following during camp, for sure. Personally, I consider them both quite spectacular, where Pääjärvi obviously has the speed to his advantage, while Omark is incredibly shifty and has very impressive offensive bodychecks, as he controls the puck.

As for Pääjärvi, his speed and fearless attitude will be valuable for the Oilers. He skates hard all the time and creates chances both for himself and his teammate. While often considered more of a sniper, I think his playmaking ability is at least as good as he his blessed with good hockey sense. While he is strong and get involved physically, I still would not mind him playing the body a bit more, but as long as he contributes his team winning and putting up points, one should not complain. I am positive he has a great shot at making the Oilers’ team. His performance during the World Championships, playing against men, was truly impressive and he seems to excel when playing against older opposition.

Robin @ CI -  Do you think scout Per-Erik Eklund, brought in from the Canadiens' organization this summer and played more than 500 NHL games and tallied 430 points in the bulk of his career with the Philadelphia Flyers, has any ties to these players or is it merely coincidental? What is Eklund's level of respect overseas and how do you think that he improves this club immediately and long-term?

Johan @ EP - I think it is coincidental. The Oilers needed a new name to replace Kent Nilsson and Per-Erik is well-respected. Eklund has always been a pretty popular person here in Sweden, although underrated as a player and usually in the shadows of the more known NHL players we have produced. It is difficult how he can help the Oilers in the future, but since he has strong ties with his former Swedish team, Leksand, and is also based in that town, he will follow Lekands U20 team very closely.


This is a bit interesting, since there is a lot of talent on that particular junior team. Most known is probably big forward Victor Rask (undrafted/pictured left. Photo by J. Strom), who at an early stage is thought of as a potential first rounder in next year’s draft. There is also another top prospect on that team, although one year younger – Filip Forsberg (undrafted). He is among the very best 94-born players in Sweden.

Robin @ CI -  Who else has really caught your attention this off-season, either through drafting or the impact that they will have come the commencement of the NHL regular season? Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share with the readers?

Johan @ EP - Well, not a prospect by any means, but one player that I think could come to surprise a lot of people in the NHL this season is Tampa Bay Lightning signing Niklas Persson.  Persson is 31, but better than ever. A great team player with good all-round skills. I think of him as a cross between Johan Franzén and Samuel Påhlsson. Persson’s last two seasons have been excellent and I am glad he finally gets a shot at the big league. Persson and the rest of the big Swedish rookie crop entering the league this season, will make the NHL more interesting to follow than ever from here.

Robin @ CI – Johan, as always thank you a great deal for all of your insight. Take care.

Johan @ EP – Cheers.


23 August 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson

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