Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE
The latest Ottawa Senators players to sign lockout contracts with European teams are defenceman Mike Lundin and forward Zack Smith. Lundin's off to Sweden, while Z. Smith heads to Denmark.
Two more Ottawa Senators have signed contracts with European teams while they await good news from the NHL-NHLPA CBA negotiations.
Zack Smith, fresh off a trip to the Territories as a participant in the Northern Lights Dream Tour, signed on with the Frederikshavn White Hawks of Denmark's top league, AL-Bank Ligaen. Frederikshavn's club director Henrik Anderson said that Z. Smith fit the bill for the type of player the team was really looking for: Young, fast, and strong. The contract will last for the rest of the season, or until the lockout ends.
Although it's possible Z. Smith could make his debut tonight, it seems more likely he'll have to wait until the team's next game (Dec. 2 against the Herning Blue Fox) at the earliest.
Although other AL-Bank Ligaen teams have brought locked-out NHLers over, Z. Smith is the first to join the White Hawks--in fact, the team's declined requests from other NHLers to join them. He's one of just eight non-Danish players on the roster, and one of three Canadians. Frederikshavn is currently third in league standings.
Smith joins the league a little over a month after Colin Greening signed there, but Greening's playing with the Aalborg Pirates. In just ten games (most others in the league have played 16-18), Greening's already scored 9G and 9A and is ninth in league scoring. Aalborg leads the league with 42 points in the standings, but they're also the most penalized team. (I'm not sure if PIMs are a relevant category in league standings, but the league's site displays PIM standings, aka "Fair Play," front-and-centre.)
Meanwhile, across the Kattegat, Mike Lundin--who's never played a game for the Senators but remains on the roster--has signed on with Almtuna IS with Sweden's HockeyAllsvenskan, the country's second tier of pro hockey. Almtuna is based in the city of Uppsala, just about an hour north of Stockholm (and a place I've actually been to!). Due to paperwork issues, Lundin is not expected to play tonight for twelfth-place Almtuna.
Although it appears that no other NHLers are playing for Almtuna, Senators' 2008 seventh-round draft pick Emil Sandin is on the team.
Interestingly, Lundin's actually a Swedish-American who grew up just outside Minneapolis (a well-known enclave of Americans with Swedish ancestry, apparently).