Swedecist


Sweet photo by Jamie Sabau of Getty Images. Either Gonchar tore his hymen or he wants the playoffs to end more quickly than I do.

What a bittersweet last couple of days. In a week that saw the Ramirez boys, Manny and Aramis, become arsonists and pour gasoline all over my 2009 keeper league fantasy baseball team’s chances, our Ottawa Senators finally broke some news less than 24 hours after I wrote a piece outlining how brutally boring the offseason can be.

Cue Erik Karlsson — only the most hyped Swedish prospect in Ottawa hockey history since Daniel’s brother, Henrik Alfredsson, joined the 67s. I’m not saying that to slight Daniel Alfredsson. It’s just that when he came into camp, he was generally considered as an unknown 6th-round entity. At the time, I can recall Ottawa journalists expecting more from Alfredsson’s rookie counterpart, Antti Tormanen.

Going through Ottawa’s draft history and the success of the Swedes at the international level, it’s interesting to see that Ottawa has typically abstained from drafting them. Prior to the selection of Karlsson and Andre Petersson last summer, the most recent selection was John Wikner in the 9th round of the 2004 draft.

Here is a small list of others:

- Matthias Karlsson, 4th round, 2003
- Johan Bjork, 4th round, 2002
- Magnus Arvedson, 5th round, 1997
- Andreas Dackell, 6th round, 1996
- Petter Ronnquist, 11th round, 1992

Including Alfredsson, Wikner, Karlsson and Petersson, the Senators have drafted 9 Swedish players since returning to the NHL in 1992. Comparatively speaking, John Muckler drafted twice as many enigmatic (read: shitty) eastern Europeans who likely will never set foot in North America to play hockey.

Why Ottawa historically has shied away from drafting Swedes isn’t particularly clear. However, part of the hype surrounding Erik Karlsson can undoubtedly be attributed to his Swedish heritage. As Detroit has managed to stay atop the standings for well over a decade now, journalists and hockey fans have subscribed to the “Two S’s Theory” by fellaciously [sic] attributing their success to Detroit’s European Scout, Hakan Andersson and their continued ability to cultivate productive Swedish players.

That’s not to say that Karlsson’s skills aren’t responsible for inducing boners all over the Nation’s Capital, they are. With the World Junior’s being played here in town, we had a first-hand look at Karlsson as he lead all defencemen in tournament in scoring (2G, 5A in 7 games) and was named the tournament’s top defenceman. He represents the organization’s first blue-chip prospect and for once in what seems like ages, fans don’t have to worry about Karlsson’s skills. Instead, we have a Steven Stamkos situation — is he physically mature enough to play well and consistently handle the rigors of playing at the highest level.

“Without a doubt. His head and hands are terrific, but the question is can he handle the every day traffic in the NHL?” ~ Bryan Murray, courtesy Off the Posts

Well, I don’t think there’s any question that this kid is going to be afforded every opportunity to make the club. Since his contract also allows for him to be sent to Binhamton and I haven’t heard him say recently that he’d be opposed to starting the season there, I just can’t foresee him not being here at some point next year.

Allen Panzeri from the Citizen claims Karlsson’s offensive presence can fill the club’s biggest need and he also goes on to say that Bryan Murray will only keep 7 defencemen to start the season. Which begs the question — What the hell happens to the logjam of offensively inclined, defensively blah incumbents?

Murray said the club hasn’t yet made a decision on whether it wants to re-sign Brendan Bell. ~ Panzeri, The Ottawa Citizen

Well, I guess that’s a start.

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