The Detroit News (Ted Kulfan):
Wings wooing young forward
Several teams trying to sign Brunnstrom, who has been excelling on Swedish Elite team.
Ted Kulfan / The Detroit News
DETROIT — Yes, the Wings are following a Swedish star. No, it’s not Peter Forsberg.
Forward Fabian Brunnstrom, an undrafted player in Sweden who has blossomed the last two seasons, is an unrestricted free agent drawing interest from the Wings and several other NHL teams.
Brunnstrom, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder who will be 23 on Feb. 6, is expected to sign with an NHL team once his season with the Swedish Elite League ends in March or early April.
“We like him, we made him a contract offer, and we consider him a good prospect,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a late bloomer. He has good hockey sense.”
Vancouver, Anaheim and Toronto also have shown interest. Vancouver would like him on a line with Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Brunnstrom became a hot prospect last season when he dominated a lower Swedish division with 73 points in 41 games.
“He’s coming pretty much from nowhere,” Farjestad general manager Hakan Loob told the Hockey News earlier this season. “Mentally, he has grown strong in the past year, but he has the potential to become mentally stronger. He looks like he has been in the Elite League for a couple of years the way he moves the puck and skates.”
I’ve always been puzzled by the perceived lack of scouting and absences of prospects from Sweden within the Montreal Canadiens organization. With the exception of defensman Niklas Torp (2007-6th round #163 overall), the Habs don’t have another Swedish players in their system which is ashamed because Swedish hockey is producing some solid NHL players (just look around the NHL).
Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIHA) has totally revamped its country’s hockey program from minor hockey to the pro level, modelling it after the “Hockey Excellence” program at Hockey Canada. The Swedes have eliminated their past tendency to teach and emphasize the defensive side (especially the “trap” or Left Wing Lock) of the game which took away teaching kids offensive creativity/skills.
How times have changed with the Swedish program as it has and is producing some wonderfully talented and creative players. Just look at this year’s U-20 national junior team with great young players like Oscar Eklund, Mikael Backlund (Cal), Patrik Berglund (St. Louis), Tobias Forsberg (2009 draft eligible), Victor Hedman (2009 draft eligible) whom were one goal away from beating Team Canada for the gold medal.
The Montreal Canadiens have three European scouts (four if you count Nikolai Vakourov who scouts Russia) with one of them, Pelle Eklund being responsible for scouting players in Sweden. It could be just a question of bad timing or draft selection order, when the Canadiens make their selections at the draft. I just hope the Habs and Bob Gainey are being given the best scouting reports available to make the proper player evaluations when looking at Swedish players……..starting with the much pursued Fabian Brunnstrom.
Here are some Swedish Elite League highlights of Fabian Brunnstrom (#96). Good speed, nice moves and a very good wrist shot:
CBC (hotstove: about Fabian Brunnstrom): http://www.cbc.ca/sports/player/?maven_playerId=hockeynightincanada&maven_referralPlaylistId=474a526d503a2fe3d89adfa5eb4a0fa4cceb90fc&maven_referralObject=625859019
Small scouting report that I was able to find about Brunnstrom: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=6659&lang=en