First of all, thank you for the appreciation of my previous post, I am glad you enjoyed it.
Please, excuse me for any typos and bad grammar, I'm a little unused to write in English. Hopefully I can make the piece interesting enough to be worth reading anyway.
But to get to the point. In the SEL, the regular season is now finished and playoff is at game 3 for Brynäs and Jacob Silfverberg. For Mika Zibanejad and Fredrik Claesson in Djurgårdens IF it has been worse, the team finished next to last, which means that they must face the top 4 teams from the second division in a 10 games series to avoid relegation. If you follow me after the jump, I will try to give you some more info about the Swedish prospects and share with you my thoughts about them.
To be honest I have not seen Djurgården IF that many times this season so my opinion is not the whole truth, just the way I see it.
Fredrik Claesson - Who is he? No, but seriously, it's the first thought you get about Claesson, and I mean that somewhat in a good way. He's the guy who goes to work every day and do his job without complaint. You don´t take notice of Claesson for the simple reason that he rarely makes any obvious mistakes, but likewise rarely do that little extra. He plays a safe and simple game. This season has been turbulent for Djurgarden, there have been a lot of problems in the defence so Claesson who normally play 5-6D has in some games been trusted to play 2-3D. You can see why when you look at the statistics, he has played +7 this season and tops + / - among defenders. In fact, he was the only one of the established D that was on the plus side.
So far, so good, but is he NHL material? Tough question, Claesson is by no means an unique player and competition is tough, give him a year or two in the AHL and maybe he will become a stable 5 or 6D, maybe even better. I would give him 50/50 chance of success.
Mika Zibanejad - Between WJC games and injuries he managed to make 5 goals and a total of 13 points in 26 games. I do not really know where Mika stands, in the matches I have seen this season, he was completely invisible, far from the skilled player I know he can be. In other matches, it was reported that he has been absolutely outstanding. His uneven performance is probably partely due to the fact that he have had trouble with injuries ending up having played less than half of the season's games, and it should be remembered that the whole team has underperformed huge. Zibanejad may be a great talent, but he is not one that can carry an entire team on his shoulders.
Is Mika a future NHL player? I think so, he´s got talent and good skills but I do not think he is quite ready yet. He must learn to be there every game, get better at delivering what is expected of him, like Claesson it would probably be good for Zibanejad with a time in the AHL.
Now, my big favorite - Jakob Silfverberg.
I pressume you read his own words and know about the trophies that was awarded to him. A few days ago he was awarded another one, "The Golden Helmet" voted as MVP of the year by the players in the SEL. In an interwiew yesterday about it he also said that: "-If Ottawa want´s me to come over for the playoffs, I´ll be there."
Silfverberg stayed home to become better at everything and to be more mature, I must say, exactly that is what he has managed to do. What impresses me the most is how much he has matured since he early in the season got the captain's role, Silfverberg is no longer just the guy with the great hockeysense, the ability to keep the puck and the amazing shot, today he is also a leader. A guy who takes great responsibility both on and off ice, it is hard to believe that he is only 21 years old. On the ice, one can only say that he leads by example, I have seen all of his 49 appearances this season and although the team has played really bad sometimes, I can´t remember more than one or maybe two games where Jacob has not been so good, he has an incredibly consistent level of his game and the level is high .
Of course there are still things Silfverberg need to work on, his physical game can be improved and he still needs to be a little quicker off the mark.
What do I think of Silfverbergs chances in the NHL? I'd be very surprised if he does not take a spot on the Senators roster, I even do think he has a really good chance at a top six. I expect big things from this guy and if I look 5-10 years into the future, I think Silfverberg will be mentioned in the same context as other successful Swedes as Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Backstrom and Mats Sundin. If you would like to continue having a Swedish captain the day Alfredsson choose to hang up the skates for the last time, here´s the perfect candidate.
Some of you also asked if I could name any dark horse for this year's draft.
Unfortunately, I have trouble finding the time to see junior hockey enough to have a good grip on it, but I have a name worth to remember that I believe will be mentioned as an NHL star in the future. His name is Elias Lindholm and comes like Silfverberg from Brynäs. Elias plays center and was picked up to Brynäs SEL-team as a 16 year old. Now, he is still a child and me name him a NHL-star to be is perhaps a bit premature, but he has the potential to be really , really good. I'm a little unsure of the rules on the draft, it may be that he isn´t available until next year's draft? He turns 18 in December. Ottawa should keep an eye on him though, he is first cousin to Calle "Ironhook" Järnkrok who plays center in Silfverbergs line and the cousins plays hockey in a similar way. Silfverberg and Järnkrok is magical to see out there, I´m farily sure that Elias Lindholm and Silfverberg would be to.
The post became a little longer then intended, I hope you didn´t got fed up with me. ;)