18 April 2019


 2010 Swedish Elite League playoffs with J. Nilsson



Robin @ Chiller Instinct: Good day hockey enthusiasts.


I am chatting today with Johan Nilsson of Eliteprospects.com


Johan, Welcome back. Now just to back-track a little, what are the particulars surrounding last year's Swedish Elite League (SEL) champion, Farjestad? Are there any interesting details about their season/roster leading up to next season?


Johan @ Elite Prospects: The champions from last year, Färjestad, were eliminated in the quarter final. Well, they lost a lot of key players from last year which was the main reason the team did not make it further. Some key veterans and NHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson were tough to replace, but still they did dress a team that was probably top 4 in the league in terms of skill.


Färjestad has a pretty good prospect pool, so I suspect there will be some interesting youngsters getting quality ice time next season, but if I know that team, they will most likely announce a couple of big signings during off-season.  Among players rumoured to sign - we find Toronto Marlies/Maple Leafs duo Jonas Frögren and Rickard Wallin.


Robin @ CI: With the SEL season firmly entrenched in playoff heat, what should hockey fans be aware of that is generally taking place?


Johan @ EP: The playoffs are quite interesting this year. Färjestad were eliminated in the quarter final and we are currently half way through the semifinals, where the prospect-stacked Skellefteå is up against power house HV71, and the strong Linköping team is playing Djurgården from the capital of Stockholm.


Tedenby HV71HV71, with noticeable draftees such as Mattias Tedenby (New Jersey Devils/pictured left) and Adam Almqvist (Detroit Red Wings), is leading their series 2-1 and should definitely be considered favourites. Skellefteå is doing pretty well though and among the top prospect that they have at defense, David Rundblad (St. Louis Blues), is doing really well, although not putting any real numbers for an offensive defenseman.


Djurgården, another team stacked with talented prospects such as Jacob Josefson (New Jersey Devils), has a 2-1 lead over Linköping. That series could end up being really tight. On paper, HV71 and Linköping ought to make it through.


Robin @ CI: What have been the big unknown factors that can sometimes come to play a large hand in the playoffs, and who has risen to an elite force so far as players?


Johan @ EP: There are a couple of players that are having stand out performances in the playoffs so far. One is quite unknown Skellefteå forward Johan Forsberg. A 24-year old winger and SEL rookie who has scored 7 goals in 10 games. He had a solid regular season as well and a player to watch in the future.


Another player, that could possibly fill a role on a third or fourth line in the NHL, is 27-year old undrafted center Andreas Falk. Falk plays for HV71 and has to this point scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 games. A great playoff performer and team player.


Robin @ CI: Ah, I am glad you filled us in with such detail and especially on Forsberg; my interest-level had spiked because of the numbers and vibe I was getting in his team's advancement.


In all pro leagues, teenagers have a small but pivotal place among the best teams usually. How have the youngsters, many of which also played big parts in the 2010 World Junior Championships, come to aid these particular teams and how do you see the role evolving over the years that you have watched the league Johan? 


Johan @ EP: Overall, I’d say that the prospects currently involved in the playoffs have a somewhat smaller role now in the playoffs, where strength and experience is valued to a greater extent. There are some exceptions though.


Looking at the Swedish players that were part of the U20 WJC squad and are still in the playoff run, we can start off with Skellefteå. They have four WJC players on their roster. At defense, David Rundblad is playing pretty impressive. Still a bit risky in his own end, but he does many things very right too. It is really a mystery how he only managed to score one goal this season, with all those offensive tools.


ErixonTim Erixon, (pictured right) whose rights belong to the Calgary Flames, is having a solid albeit non-spectacular playoff run. He is scoreless, but he sees quality minutes and plays a simple and solid game.


The undrafted 2011 prospect, Adam Larsson, has had some illness problems but is back in the line-up. IMO, he is not looking as good as earlier during the season where he really stood out, but he does not look out place either.


The last one, physical forward Martin Lundberg, is used as a checking line player and does his job pretty well, although usually getting somewhat limited ice time. He checks hard and tries to be a pain in the butt for the opposing players.


HV71 speedy winger Mattias Tedenby is looking good. He has one goal and two assists in 8 games, but is playing better than the numbers suggest. He draws a lot of penalties, creates a lot of scoring chances etc. He seems to excel come playoff time. As for Senators' draftee, André Petersson, he has yet not played any playoffs games due to a back injury.


Linköping does not have any WJC players on their squad, but Djurgården has a few. Slick playmaker Marcus Krüger is not scoring at the same pace as during the regular season, but I guess still doing alright. Two-way forward Jacob Josefson has missed a couple of games due to illness and only collected one assist in six games. The third one, gritty winger Daniel Brodin, is seeing pretty limited ice time and is scoreless so far.


When it comes to prospects in general in the SEL playoffs, I’d say they are becoming more prominent for each season. One reason possibly being that the coaches are no longer as afraid to play youngsters instead of veterans, that is, a change in attitude. The main reason, however, is simply that there are so many more quality prospects coming out of Sweden these days.


Robin @ CI: That is impressive and extensive knowledge. I know the readers appreciate your view of the league as I do. Johan,


LindbergOscar Lindberg (pictured left) has ascended through his playing days in the Skelleftea junior system and is now producing quality minutes and taking some key faceoffs with their men's club. What can you tell us about Lindberg and what kind of team do you think will pick up on his talents and make him a priority draft selection this summer in Los Angeles?


Johan @ EP: Oscar is among the top 10 Swedish players eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. I have seen people predicting him to be drafted anywhere from round 2-7. A team that wants a player with some leadership skills that contributes both ways  and is very skilled defensively will pick Lindberg.


He is a true two-way player that takes care of his defensive responsibilities but still have some offensive skills to go. A very all-round player that I can see play a third line role in the NHL in the future. He might not be too flashy and does not have that many stand out skills, but for sure a prospect that contributes in many ways. He is having a very solid playoff run so far having scored two goals in 8 games. I expect him to be part of Sweden’s WJC roster next season.


Robin @ CI: Finally, I see that Tony Martensson and Jan Hlavac's attack have fueled Linkoping into the semi-finals. Martensson especially was a force throughout the year and has continued on into the playoffs, leading the charge. He was only bested by one man in the SEL scoring race, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen.


Zuccarello-Aasen shone bright for MODO this season and I trust he'll garner a lot more attention. What can you tell me about the diminutive star skater for Norway at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and your league this season?


Zuccarello-AasenJohan @ EP:Zuccarello-Aasen (pictured right) has maybe been the main attraction of the entire SEL this season. A truly great player. Obviously, he is very small, but he plays big with plenty of intensity and some grit. Zuccarello has very slick hands and good scoring as well as passing ability. Might not be the best player out there when it comes to defensive awareness, but overall he is an impact player with a good release that will put up lots of points in any minor league. In MODO, he was the top player all season long and very rarely did he have poor games.


He has a contract with MODO for another two years, but the team is expecting to lose him to the NHL. The Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks are two teams that have been rumoured to be very eager to sign this Norwegian puck magician.



I think his very solid play in the Olympics, against better and tougher opposition, got many teams interested. He proved he could handle that level of play and personally it would not surprise me if he was able to crack an NHL roster next season, being one of the smallest players in the entire league. A SEL fan favourite, and a potential one in the NHL too, IMO.


Robin @ CI: Thank you for such a great interview Johan, we look forward to talking with you again. In the off-season, perhaps around the NHL Entry Draft?


Johan @ EP: New talk come draft time, sounds good to me. Cheers Robin!





7 April 2010


Robin Keith Thompson




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