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Preview: Scouting Sweden

Scouting Sweden

Scouting Canadians playing pro-sport in Sweden as well as Swedes who have connections to the Edmonton Oilers.

Updated: 2014-10-05T02:08:09.348+02:00


Canada vs. Sweden 2009 World Championships



Circa 1985... Rocky IV is in the theatres and the Cold War was a cold as ever. Ivan Drako, played by Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, represented the Sovietski (AKA CCCP) threat to Rocky Balboa.

Don't ask me why, but I put in a hypothetical... what if there had been a sort of world tournament of boxing, who would've Dolph faced from Canada?

Grand Prairie's Willie De Witt, naturally.

Today, as I type, it is also some unknown Swedes against the unknown Canadians.

Such incredible match-ups as:
  • in Goal: Jonas "unsigned sensation" Gustafsson vs. Dwayne "Rollie" Roloson!
  • Captain Shane (Doan) vs. Captain Kenny (Jönsson)
  • Propects: Linus "shootout" Omark vs. Steve "seen" Stamkos
  • "Bleep" Tärnström vs. Shawn "Horcoff and Die"
After 6 and a half minutes Derek Roy openned the scoring for Canada. Good start for the boys in Red and White.

After Sweden's defeat of the Czechs yesterday, tv commentators were heralding the stingy Swedish defense and how well they shut the powerful Czechs off their game.

That was the game they saw. I saw a team of Swedes desperately trying to hold the lead.

If all goes according to plan, Canada will repeat last year's story line and meet Russia in Sunday's final. Or, as my hypothetical scenario goes:
After Russia disposed of Rocky Balboa, Drago goes on to face Willie De Witt for all the marbles.

Will it be another Canada-Sweden Semifinal?


About an hour ago, Canada secured their 7th straight trip to the World Championship semi-final after defeating Latvia 4-2.

In just over an hour, Sweden will face the Czech Republic to decide the other entrant in tomorrow's semi-final.

KHL star and 37 year old Czech, Jaromir Jagr, whom has been heavily sought after by the Edmonton Oilers, has a lot of respect for this Swedish squad despite its lack of NHL talent. In fact, in an article by Swedish news bureau TT, Jagr mentions a respect for young Linus Omark but thinks he should have chosen the NHL.

(NOTE: these are my rough translations from the Swedish article to English)

It too bad that he didn't opt to try his luck in the NHL, I heard he will be the
KHL. But it is his choice.
I have seen a few of the new Swedish players and heard news about Omark. I've seen his highlight reels. He is a good player, but to play in the NHL he would meet players like (Sidney) Crosby, who was only 19 when are won the scoring title.

I think Jagr meant that Omark would benefit more from competition in the NHL than he will in the unbalanced and developing KHL.
My thoughts though are what could have been. Just think, should the Oilers miraculously get Jagr under contract, and had Omark chosen Edmonton over Moscow Dynamo, they would have hypothetically been teammates. One can only dream of what potential that would have been...
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In the above clip from Swedish Television, Omark himself notes that he's lost a bit of a step in the knock-out rounds of the tournament. He has lost a bit of confidence around the net and with the puck but is hopeful the scoring touch will return against the Czechs.

If Oilers GMs K.Lowe and the great tamBellini are in the stands for this one, will they be drooling over Jagr or Omark? Hard to know.

What is known, is that the winning team faces Canada... on Friday.

About Scouting Sweden


I really like the Swedish word lagom. It means essentially "Not too much, not too little". Just lagom.My enthusiasm for the NHL's Edmonton Oilers is lagom, by my standards. I am very enthusiastic about the sport of ice hockey, the Oilers players, the prospects, their season, their history, etc. However, living on Central European Time, I have a hard time watching or listening to games that often occur between 3 and 6 o'clock in the morning. Instead, I have chosen a measured approach to my Oilers and follow instead often only in words (game reports, blogs, etc.) and video.It is therein that I discovered an appreciation for the Oilogosphere (Oilers Blogs). It was the summer of 2007 and a friend was the co-author of one of the more popular blogs, at the time.Far away from the often thoughtless idiots of call-in-radio, or the babble on HF forums, blogs were a source of intelligent commentary, statistical analysis and humour. It was new. It was unique.I too felt unique. Lagom unique.The local Uppsala newspaper published an interview one November day on then Oilers prospect, and local boy, Jonas Almtorp. At the time, Jonas had leapt across the pond to try his luck in the Oilers (farm) system. His leap knocked the bar off (to use another sport analogy) and into a level of professional hockey much lower than he had likely expected, that was riding busses in the ECHL.There were a few direct quotes from Almtorp in that UNT article, and I took it upon myself to translate and share them with the Oilers faithful, or rather the Oilogosphere. And thus began my so-called blog.I am not a scout, nor am I involved with hockey in any sense other than as a casual observer.Living in Sweden, I simply am taking the opportunity to send reports from my unofficial outpost. I keep an eye open here and there for any of the following:Oilers draft picks (present or past) playing in SwedenCanadians that play in Swedish clubsInteresting Swedish prospects or talents The Swedish system of sport (for instance: promotion/demotion in hockey)Battles between Canada and SwedenObscure Oilers connections (like my semi-invented Swedish team, The Rölers)What is more, I love soccer (hereafter known as football - AKA: SHAKAF). Canada is not known for football prowess and the dismal performances at an international level (1986 being our lone World Cup appearance) make it difficult to be a fan of Canadian football. Nevertheless, I am a Canadian football fan. I am a Voyageur!Any time a Canadian international makes inroads in the sport, I like to follow them. Atiba Hutchinson as an example, got his start in the Swedish clubs Östers IF and Helsingborg IF before finding his current home in FC Copenhagen's midfield. I also like other crazy ice sports like Bandy. All this amounts to an attempt at blogging. I do it because I think it is fun and it is my creative outlet. If anyone reads it, great! But frankly, I do it for the love and interest of sport.I do not post here that frequently, maybe once or twice a month, but hopefully what is posted is interesting and informative. In lagom amounts. [...]

Motin a Champion, Omark goes Russian


Färjestads BK have won the Raoul Le Mat trophy for the 8th time in franchise history.Yesterday's 3-2 win over defending champions HV71, was the 19th straight home ice victory for Färjestads. They were dominant at home and dominant throughout the playoffs losing only once. It was game 5 of the best of 7.Headlines abound today about the impending retirement of journeyman Jörgen Jönsson. It was Jönsson's fifth SM Guld (Swedish Mästerskap/championship Gold) and the first for young Johan Motin. Motin, drafted in 2008 by the Edmonton Oilers played a measly 6 seconds (!) of yesterday's decisive match (only Austrian back-up goalie Reinhard Divis had less ice time).In actual fact, Motin did play, just not last night. He averaged 11:48 minutes per match in the playoffs, often in the third defense paring. Nevertheless, the experience of playing and winning the Swedish championship can not be understated.Canadian Lee Goren also registered his first SM Guld. Goran was a Boston Bruins draft pick from 1997 and played in the Florida and Vancouver organisations before his European adventures. He was a dominant figure both last season in Skellefteå and in this year's Färjestad troop. Goren has said he will not be returning to the Karlstad club and, although his contract does extend through the 2009/10 season, there are sites suggesting he has signed with Bern/Zug of the Swiss league.Former Oilers 2002 draft pick Mikko Luoma played like a workhorse in a losing cause for opponents HV71. In the playoffs, he average 24:59 minutes per match and played nearly 27000 seconds (7,5hrs) of hockey. He scored too, registering 11 points (3G, 8A). Final factoid: Jörgen Jönsson was drafted by the Calgary Flames 227th overall in 1994 NHL entry draft.OMARK SIGNS WITH DYNAMOReports arose yesterday that the "Overtorneå boys", Linus Omark and Johan Harju, have signed contracts with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. The Oilers had apparently tendered a contract offer to Omark, but some big money and the chance to play with his good friend Harju seem to have lured him to Russia.Omark is quoted saying that ice time in Edmonton would be nearly impossible in his first year and his decision came down to weighing a journey via the AHL versus continuing to play with his good friend, Harju in the KHL. That and some big time Russian Rubles.Given my disillusionment over the Oilers having yet again missed the playoffs combined with an overflow of small, skill-oriented forwards, I find this loss tough to measure. Omark has proven his talents and abilities in Sweden's best league. He is a creative player who can also play physical. His next stage in development was obviously a move out of Sweden. Russia was not likely what the Oilers had in mind.My own personal opinion is that it is more disappointing to have lost Omark's asset. At the very least he could have been a valuable trading piece during the summer silly season.By the way, for any one who has yet to hear of Youtube or may be unfamiliar with his creative prowess, I present the following display into evidence:BJURLING'S SSK AND THE RÖLERS BACK IN THE ELITE Both Rögle BK (hereafter called the Rölers) and Södertälje SK re-qualified for next year's Elite Series. Having finished 11th & 12th respectively in this year's Elite Series, both teams were forced into a qualifying tournament against 4 clubs from the tier II Allsvenska. Unlike last year, both Elite Series teams breezed through the tournament and re-punched their ticket to top tier hockey. Winning is worth it too. The TV revenues of the Elite Series dwarf those of the Allsvenska by 18:1. Whether Södertälje goalie Björn Bjurling, who is still under the Edmonton Oilers umbrella (drafted 2004), will be back next season is another story. No news has surfaced about his future address.As for the Rölers, their successful Canadian twin duo of Chris and Cam Abbott are leaving. Cam and Chris were unheard of a year ago upon arrival from the Norweigan first division. They had a w[...]

Omark Keeps on Scoring


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Swedish public broadcaster SVT profiles Linus Omark. I'll summarize this in English at a later time.

For now, the gist is that he's a fun guy with a "glimmer in his eye".

Omark assisted on both Luleå goals in today's 4-2 loss in game 2. Former Oilers prospect Fredrik Pettersson's scored for Frölunda. Highlights can be seen via this link.

March Forward


Woosh. That would be the sound of a metaphoric Elite Series hockey season zooming past. (In actual fact, it was a slow amble, although use of the fast-forward button creates the desired “woosh” effect.) It is time for playoffs and that means more than just the championship, but also the fight to avoid relegation.ELITE SERIES QUALIFICATION TOURNAMENTI had adopted Rögle BK as my team of choice during this year’s campaign. The Rölers, as I called them, held their own early season to initially surprised many.Yet, here it is the Rölers who return to the Elite Series qualification tournament, this year as the losers defending their position rather than winners from the Allsvenska. The team gained promotion from the Allsvenska in dramatic fashion last spring in the final tournament match. During the off-season they made both smart and fluky acquisitions, including NHL veteran Mathias Tjärnqvist (brother of Daniel) and the anonymous Canadian twins Chris and Cam Abbott.By mid-season, the team from Ängelholm was comfortably in the middle of the table in the 12 team league. But the trend was not the Rölers friend. Losses and injuries began to mount and it was mostly movements down in the standings as they approached March. They finished 11th and face the qualification tourney.Joining them as relegates-to-be is Björn Bjurling’s Södertälje SK. The Edmonton Oilers drafted goalie posted okay numbers (90.93% save perc. & an average 34 shots per game) and was a lone bit of stability for SSK. The problem lay in that Södertälje managed next to no offence, registering a league low 122 goals for, which had them suckling on the bottom of the standings for most of the year.To some degree blame could be the revolving door (literally) into the coach’s office. Södertälje fired Leif Strömberg on December 10, only to recently rehire him February 26. Södertälje, it would seem, is plagiarizing Brynäs circa 2007-08. Brynäs IF used a similar distorted management style last year firing and rehiring Leif Boork as they miraculously hung around and qualified for another year in the Elite Series. It remains to be seen if SSK can wholly emulate Brynäs and re-qualify for next year's Elite Series.Not to be outdone, March 2, after the final regular season game, Rögle (correction: Rölers) management promptly and inexplicably fired their coaching duo Peter Johansson and Björn Hellkvist. A new skipper, Gunnar Persson, is also a former skipper (coached Rögle '04-'06) and has been entrusted to stave off the team’s relegation back to the Allsvenska.On the topic of coaches, former Edmonton Oiler Bert Robertsson together with colleague Jonas Rönnqvist has over-exceeded all expectations in their first year with Uppsala team Almtuna IS. Head coach Rönnqvist and assistant Robertsson have brought a high-tempo, aggressive-forecheck style to a team made up primarily of worker-bees and grinders. Bert and team knocked off last year’s Elite Series relegate, Mora IK in the first playoff to the qualifying tournament.Their success in part is coaching, but can also be due to goaltender, Mark “in da park” Owuya . He is on loan from Djurgårdens IF and has been a stellar workhorse all season. Unfortunately, his return in Almtuna next year is highly doubtful. The 19 year old, who was passed over in the 2008 NHL draft, has turned many heads with his poise between the pipes for Almtuna. A return to Djurgårdens next season is most likely yet the playoff experience is all the better for his development, confidence and I wouldn't be suprised if he would be drafted this June. His hip-hop/urban Swedish stylings, on the other hand (as seen on his website), should be retired.Above collage: A few of the Berts I know (and one Burt)Should little Almtuna miraculously get promoted to the Elite Series, the crummy and cold Gränby Ishall (or, as I call it, ice hole) would be quite the embarrassment to top tier hockey i[...]

World Junior Championships 2009 Final


For the second year in a row, Canada faces Sweden in the IIHF World Junior championships.

I see it as I always see it: a no-win, both-win situation. I cheer for Canada, but am rather lonely doing it. Should Canada win, I am happy and everyone around me isn't. Should Canada loose, I am depressed while everyone around me is overjoyed. It is like deciding which is better, the plague or cholera... hard to pick sides.

Some sources are billing this as Hedman vs. Tavares. The two are supposed to be the top two picks in the upcoming 2009 NHL entry draft. Hedman is a workhorse defenseman that doesn't get a lot of glory. Tavares has FINALLY made it to the World Juniors stage.

I think the better story line is with Jakob Markström in goal. He has been most of the story for Sweden as he was for Brynäs last spring. Mattias Tedenby, New Jersey's 24th overall pick in 2008, has also had a good tournament with 5 points (1+4) in 5 games.

For Canada, Oilers draft pick Jordan Eberle was a superhero in the semifinal victory over Russia.

As often is with this level of hockey, it is extremely fun to watch. At the very least, I'll try and see the positive amongs the battle: at least someone will be happy at the end... hope it is me.
(BTW, I'm fully aware that the pic is not from the 2009 World Juniors Tournament, nor the any World Junior tournament. Ryan Smyth in a Team Canada jersey never fails to say it all though)

This blog has been really low priority for me of late. There were not many posts since the fall season began and there may not be too many in the spring either. With enough talking heads out there on the internet, I cannot see my absence being too missed.

That said, I may throw something up here now and again. Just for funzies.

Before I go though, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Linus Omark is having a spectacular season in Luleå and sits in second place in Elite Series scoring. Lowetide ranked him nr 10 among Oilers prospects and suggested he will get a call to Oilers' training camp next fall.

GOIL & GoCanada!

NHL in Stockholm: Eventual Genius & Crosby on Ice


In Swedish, Ev.Geni would mean Eventual Genius...After seeing him live October 5, I can confirm Evgeni Malkin already is a genius. At Stockholm's Globe Arena, for the second of two NHL games on European soil, Malkin showed he was head and shoulders above the competition, and even his own teammates. Yes, he was even better than Sidney Crosby too. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />The atmosphere was dare I say, tepid. With the game beginning late (20.30) due to TV, and with only a single Swede (Alfredsson) on the line-up cards, one would think there would not be much to cheer about, though then there was Evgeni. On paper it was Pittsburgh's home game and subsequently the crowd of 13,699 mildly supported the home team Penguins. Yet, despite this being the NHL in Sweden, they still brought the imported gimmicks like: "Let's hear it for your Pens" (ugh)!Some of it seemed utterly ridiculous. I'm not certain, but it sounded like the announcer was also an import. He specially did a great bastardization of the Swedish Elite Series team Djurgården (yeur-gor-den) to something closer to da-ju-RAGAR-den. Maybe he thought is sounded cooler that way. Speaking of uncool, does useless 90's techno and hard rock and the NHL go hand in hand? When will they learn that 2 Unlimited, Def Leppard and Stone Temple Pilots do not need airplay at hockey games? At least they managed get guitar happy girl-band Sahara Hotnights to do a quick 3 song set prior to game time - that was half-good.In the crowd were many an NHL team jersey. I counted at least 3 Oilers sweaters (including my own) and saw all other Canadian teams including the Flames, Leafs, Canadiens, Canucks. Ottawa obviously had a ton of supporters including a contingent of what must have been contest winners all wearing silly Senators jerseys with 08 on the back. Peter Forsberg was also well represented. To my left sat three, what looked like, brothers each wearing a jersey from teams he'd represented - Nashville, Philadelphia, Colorado. Perhaps another brother with the Nordiques jersey was relegated elsewhere.But back to Malkin. At one point in play, he cruised through the neutral zone casually bouncing the puck on his stick blade, 3 feet off the ice. He skillfully, almost lackadaisically, crossed into the offensive zone and with a small hop, dodge an oncoming bus in an Ottawa jersey, dipsy-doodled towards the net, still juggling the puck, only to be steamrolled by his own line mate. Pardon the alliteration, but Malkin made magic!Although on this night, Ottawa won the game. Alfredsson worked like a dog. He wasn't flashy, but the Senator's gritty play beat the Penguins. Malkin and Crosby were the most talented players on the ice, but Ottawa executed the better game plan. The NHL in Stockholm was great hockey and a pretty decent event but it was Malkin that made it interesting.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance, as was former NHLers like Calle Johansson, Andreas Dackell, Börje Salming, Mario Lemieux and (my grandfather's and many a Calgarian's favourite Swedish Calgary Flame) Håkan Loob.Håkan Loob with Calle Johansson & the dude from Swedish Canal+ TV.Former Oiler, Jason (Gator) Smith in warm-upFace-off featuring Crosby (behind the linesman) & Malkin.[...]

Living the Hockey Dream


Imagine being good enough to play semi-pro hockey as a winter hobby.

This guy, Trevor Bremner is traveling Europe with skates on his stick. Currently he is featured in Tier IV (div2) Säffle HC. Carpenter by summer and hockey vagabond by winter.

Trevor Bremner deserves an honourable mention for perseverence.


COMING SOON: my long overdue comments from the NHL game in Stockholm

Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh, game 2 - Globen


Puck drops in about 3 hours for the rematch of the Penguins vs. Senators at Stockholm's Globe Arena.

I'll be sitting in row 4, perpendicular to the goalline. If you happen to catch it on tv, I'll be the knob who showed up to a Senators vs. Penguins game wearing an Oilers jersey.

Bring in the Clowns...


The circus has arrived in Sweden, or at least that is how the headline reads in today's newspaper.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (with Sid the kid) and Ottawa Senators will play two matches Saturday and Sunday at Stockholm's Globe Arena, to open their NHL campaigns.

Starting the season 6000km from home nothing was left to chance. It has been deemed a circus perhaps because everything has been packed and brought over for the two matches.
Notwithstanding that both teams require a rider similar to that of a rock band, included in the truck load of supplies was, of all things, a bread toaster.
It is all about logistics, according to the NHL. Nothing is left to chance and thus everything is over packed. How very opulent and North American!

Despite the over packing, each team has also been provided with a so-called "locker room attendant". The LRA (roughly pronounced: lackey) is a local, who can help and assist with the basics like filling water bottles, making coffee, getting food or providing that local knowledge in case there is an emergency purchase needed.

But the idea of an emergency purchase is unlikely, consdering the rider, though one never knows.
Coffee, muffins, 2 saws, 2 files, 2 wood planes, 12 sheets of sandpaper, 24 pairs of skate laces, 600 pucks, 36 water bottles, 6 stationary bicycles, 100 packs of chewing gum, 24 soaps, 6 bottles of shampoo, 6 conditioners, 6 hair gel, 6 hair mousse, 6 hair brushes, 6 hair dryers, 6 shaving cream, 100 disposable razors, 6 bottle of after shave, 6 mouthwash, 6 deodorant, 2 baby powder, 2 Vaseline, 500 Q-tips. At each practice session there is to be 100 hand towels, 140kg of ice, an ice bath, and a hand dryer.

But wait... damn it, who brought the bread?!!

Introducing the Rölers! ('rOI-Lers)


In this day of fair-weather fans, dime-a-dozen sports leagues, and re-branding of teams to follow changing affiliations and demographics, it is hard to decide how to steer one's sporting allegiances.It is one thing to grow up in a city and live with the ups and downs of the prized sporting team - in that case, the choice seems abundantly clear. At least, that is my story with the Edmonton Oilers.But what about deciding upon a team in a new found sport or, in my case, arriving in a new country. How does one choose on which side of the line to pull?There are the typical answers:geographic location - choosing the team in your citythe look - choosing based on the best looking colours, design, logo, etc.a player - changing allegiances by following the career of a specific player team philosophy - identifying with the attitudes or style of a particular clubindoctrination - by way of a relative or friend, being indoctrinated to a team's ideals or culturethe winner bandwagon - a team at the top of the table, consistently wins and often has a big piggy bank.the underdog - choosing the least likely, cheapest-run team and relishing in their smallest of victoriesaffiliation - based on partnership or affiliation system (farm league)anybody but... - having one team that is the antagonist and should be cheered against in all and any circumstancesOver at the football blog Keepie-uppie, there was a recent post that aptly put a degree of reality to allegiances he had passed down to him through his family. It was less about living and dying with the success and failures, but more about realising his own limits of fan-dom. After all, this is only sport. We vicariously live in these moments of battle as modern day gladiators enter and exit the playing field for copious amounts of money and glory.Is it really that important? No, not really.But it is still outrageously fun to cheer, sing, heckle and follow these teams in their rise and falls.When it comes to hockey in Sweden, for seven years, I have chosen to remain impartial about "my team". Although, I can identify nine possible ways to choose a team, it was a tenth option that fit best:making up my own teamI HEREBY INTRODUCE THE RÖLERS!New to the hockey Elite Series this year is Rögle BK of Ängelholm.I have never seen Rögle play live, nor do I have any significant connection to their playing style, ideals or players.Although, what seems to fit best in this case is how well their logo synchronizes with that of my beloved Oilers.I say, what better way to choose a team than to graphically mash and merge (and lousy at that) two logos into one? This year, I will cheer for Rögle and the Oilers and the same time. The Rölers do not exist in any one league other than my own head, although being able to cheer for one and both gives all the more fun to focus in both the Elite Series and the NHL.This will be the plan, at least until the weather turns ugly or I can photoshop versions of OilGårdens or OilSands.[...]

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Hockey Season...


(image) The leaves on the trees are changing colour, the days are shorter, that cool breeze is in the air and the sports dailies issue their previews of hockey season.

For Swedes, or maybe just me, it is the sign that hockey is here.
Sportbladet (a division of Aftonbladet) released their 180 page magazine on Thursday.
I'll take a few more in depth look at this magazine in coming posts, but for now, I'm in a reading frenzy. Must be ready, because the regular season starts September 15th!

Total Eclipse of a Qualifying



Ever built one of those thingamajiggers in grade school science class to look at the sun? You are well aware that you shouldn't stare at the actual sun, but how bad could it be? Just a peak, for a few seconds, right at the burning fire of reality.

Or rather, maybe it is like watching a horror film from behind one's hand – peeking between the fingers. The urge to watch is more than there. One is driven to see the horrors for oneself, even if it might leave nightmares for 4 long years.

Canada’s men’s national soccer (hereafter known as football) team (CMNT) faces 4 long years of waiting, should tonight's match-up with powerhouse Mexico be yet another defeat. As recently as last week, the CMNT blew up what was felt to be REAL World Cup qualifying hopes, when they lost a home match 2-1 versus Honduras.

With 4 matches remaining in stage 3, and only -1 in the goal differential column, Canada is not mathematically out. Sadly, this does not take into account that of these 4 matches, 3 will be in foreign, unfriendly confines and a fourth will be a rematch versus said Mexico.

I have my face covered, though I’m still peeking.

For more blog commentary on tonight’s match-up, I hyperlink thee to the following:

And some more official links:


World Junior Tournament 2009 - Oilers Prospects


August was a chance for both 2008 Edmonton Oilers draft pick Johan Motin and 2007 pick William Quist to don the blue and gold Tre Kronor jerseys in advance of this year's IIHF World Junior TournamentTwo separate exhibition tournaments were the chance for evaluations of Swedish talent prior to selection of the team that will be on the ice this December in Ottawa. Sweden has drawn into group B along with Russia¸ Finland, Slovakia, and Latvia. Canada is in group A with the USA, Germany, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic.Pär Mårts returns to the helm of Sweden's Juniorkronorna, as they are known, after last year’s somewhat surprise silver medal performance (link to video clip). Mårts added the Juniors silver to his coaching resume, to go along with a 1994 Olympic Gold (assistant coach) and a 2004 Swedish Elite Series title (head coach).The approach to selecting this year's team appears to be divided among two groups of players. Half (22 players) I will term the "Real Deal", and the other 22 shall be known as the "Soon-to-be Runners-up".The "Real Deal" travelled over the Atlantic to Lake Placid, NY in early August to face a series of matches against 3 squads made up of the US junior program. Sweden’s team featured heavily touted 2009 draft prospect Victor Hedman and LA Kings prospect, Oscar Möller. The Oilers' Johan Motin was also among the "Real Deal", though did not register any points in the 4 matches played.Later in August, the "Soon-to-be Runners-up" traveled to the Four Nations Cup in the Czech Republic. They finished a respectable third, which is not bad considering they were a bit of a B-team. The players, most of whom will be playing in the J20 programs in Sweden or with Allsvenska clubs, had a convincing win over Finland but lost to Russia and the host Czechs. William Quist played 3 tournament matches in the Czech Republic and was held pointless, though did register on the scoresheet with 4 PIM and was -1. Additionally, he appeared in a 6-2 (non-tournament) win over Slovakia, Aug 29.Though they may be looked at as a B-team, these players were still are on an international stage and it was the chance to impress the coaching staff for future exhibition matches. This means very little. If anything can be drawn from these matches, it is the status report on where Mr. Quist and Mr. Motin rank in terms of the Swedish class of 1989-1991. The Oilers have 2 young prospects both of whom are being looked at for the national junior team. Positive, yes?Next up, Mårts will likely whittle down his prospects, with exception of those playing in the WHL & AHL, and will compose a team of Swedish based players for the Four Nations tournament that is set for Uppsala, Sweden in November. Motin was previously scheduled to appear at the Oilers Rookie and Training camp though now appears set to start the season with Elite Series team Färjestad BK. Quist is also set to start the season with his new Allsvenska club, Nybro IF.FINAL NOTE: Björn Bjurling's Tre Kronor appearance was hardly spectacular as the Swedes lost 4-1. Sweden showed some fire power registering 32 shots, to Finlands 20. This article notes that in the 2nd period, Bjurling allowed 2 goals on 4 shots while during the same span, Sweden peppered Finland with 13 shots and scored only once. [...]

Bjurling Picked for Tre Kronor


Swedish national coach, Bengt-Åke Gustafsson announced his Tre Kronor team for the upcoming home & away exhibition match with Finland.

The friendlies are not being well received by clubs active in pre-season tournaments. Specifically, these two games conflict with the finals of the prestigious Nordic Trophy. The ten team, Swedish-Finnish tournament entices with significant prize money to the winning team. Adding meaning to pre-season with such competitions represents a growing trend emerging throughout European hockey.(*)

As a compromise to Swedish teams, Bengt-Åke chose a wide variety of players for all Elite Series (and two Allsvenska) teams. Those clubs involved in the Nordic Trophy had at maximum one representative chosen.

Bjurling, known in some circles as BBKing, has just returned from his BB Goalie Camp that is held annually in Norway.

This will be Bjurling's second call-up to the national team. In 2003-04 he was named though did not appear in any matches. With the departure of phenom Jhonas Enroth to the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL, Bjurling is by all accounts the clear number 1 goalie for Södertälje this coming season.

Former Oiler Dick "Bleep" Tärnström, now with AIK, was also selected.

A RANDOM VIDEO MEMORY: Canada wins vs. Sweden in 2008 World Juniors final.

UPDATE: It seems the Nordic Trophy may very well represent a precursor to a Nordic League. This article on suggests that it may be only a matter of time before Sweden and Finland's big teams join forces under the banner of a single league.

(*)As a final footnote, there are a number of tournaments or "Cups" up for grabs in the European preseason. Most are by invitation only and often are nothing more than tune-ups matches billed as a tournament. To name a few, there is the Lada Cup, the Belarus Cup, or that in which Oilers draft William Quist's Nybro Vikings participated, the Fredriksstad Cup.

The European Champions Cup (akin to football's Champions League) and the Continental Cup (akin to the UEFA cup) are sanctioned events by the IIHF that will begin play later this fall.

Pre-Seasoned Swedes


Pre-season has begun in Sweden. Here are some highlights from the Oilers' perspective:WILLIAM QUISTYoung William's Nybro Vikings were up against the Norwegian Elite Series team Stjernen in a preseason match up. According to this article, Quist was one of the key "young'ens" that were stellar in their 3-2 triumph. He got prime penalty killing minutes and as coach Lenny Eriksson philosophy for his young'ens was to, "throw them right into the shit" (seriously - that's a direct translation!)LINUS OMARK Luleå has played a series of matches in Finland (arranged by Kuopio Kalpa) among them, a 3-1 win against Belorussian KHL team, Dinamo Minsk.Omark assisted in the match setting-up line mate Mats Lavander. No word on whether or not former-Oiler dreamboat Igor Ulanov was playing for Minsk.Luleå's off-ice training regime was highlighted by something that might make Oilers' fitness coach Chad Moreau take notice. On a hill called Måttsund, cross-country skiing coach Sven-Erik Pajala put Luleå hockey and basketball pros through a gruelling challenge: the King of the Hill fitness training - 3 gruelling laps up and down Måttsund ski hill. The reporter who wrote the piece actually passed Omark and posed the thought:I wonder what the Edmonton Oilers would have thought of Omark's result?Sven-Erik Pajala had his thoughts."I am of the belief that football (soccer), ice hockey and basketball players were much better shape 15-20 years ago. Today they likely have more strength, but if they don't have the conditioning to show up on this hill, it will not lead to any personal development. A hockey player's last 15 seconds on ice are very important and they have to have that stamina." JONAS ALMTORP Former Springfield Falcon, Jonas Almtorp is on a try-out contract with Luleå. His performance thus far is much like the Almtorp of last year: "Offensively he was invisible throughout the match. Defensively he did his job, not more."RÖGLE OILERS This year sees a new team in the Swedish Elite Series, namely Rögle BK from the town of Ängelholm. I've been toying with the idea of adopting them as my own, for no other reason than they have a sweet looking logo.Mattias Tjärnqvist (brother to former Oiler Daniel) has signed to play with the club. As for preseason, they seem to be in the recording studio preparing a new fight song. [...]

World Cup 2010 Qualifying - Canada vs. Jamaica


I have this quotation flipping around in my head that is something like “Hope springs eternal”. It was long ago, that hope among Canadian soccer (hereafter known as football) enthusiasts was as high as it is now, in lead up to 2010 World Cup qualifying (WCQ).Tonight, at BMO Field in Toronto, begins the third leg of four in the CONCACAF road to South Africa 2010. Jamaica will take to the artificial pitch in Toronto to face the Canadian Men’s National Team (MNT) and, what is hoped to be, a pro-Canadian home crowd.The so-called Golden Generation of Canadian football is now. It has been a long time since Canada has known a team with such strength at all positions - most especially in the midfield - and tactics other than dump-and-chase.The Voyageurs fan club, among others, has made sure that tonight will be a home field match. There should be a spectacular atmosphere at the match and I can only hope that the players respond in kind. The Voyageurs song book, with such hits as Dwayne De Rosario (to the tune of Pet Shop Boys Go West) or Radzinski (to the tune of Boney M’s Rasputin), will get a good workout from the Voyageur faithful.Hope and Faith was not just some crummy American sitcom featuring Kelly Ripa, it is becoming the unofficial themes of Canadian football fans. They will sing at the top of their lungs and cheer for their boys because they are full of hope and believe that Canada can reach a World Cup again. We’ve been trusting in this faith and hope every four years when WCQ comes around.A win in game 1 versus Jamaica will be step one. Otherwise, hope that springs eternal may be replaced by "hope burps ephemeral" or "pessimism whiplashes like a car crash". (I'll work on making that sound more eloquent, should need arise.)HOPE COUNTER: 9xFor more on the match up, I refer thy faithful to the following: CBCSportsnet's Gerry DobsonNational Post: Home crowd should give Canada a boostCanadian Soccer Association - although this link features this disturbing quote from head coach Dale Mitchell:"I think it is coming together," said Mitchell of his preparations. "It is strange week because it is a short week. Guys are traveling different places and in different states of physical condition. That is a little bit of a concern, but we have done our best to get as well organized as we can. We have the better part of a day and a half now to further rest up and to get to as close to 100% as we can be." SWEDEN: Since this blog is known as Scouting Sweden, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that also tonight the Swedish Men’s team takes on France in a friendly match at Ullevi in Gothenburg. World Cup Qualifying for Sweden and UEFA Group 1 begins in early September against Albania and Hungary.[...]

Drafticus 4:103


And thus thy went forth to the podium and bequeath to the masses that it shall be Motin and Motin it shall be.Although I am nearly two months overdue, I hereby wish to take this opportunity to thank the Edmonton Oilers scouting staff, in particular Kent Nilsson, for giving this blog a new prospect, focal point, and target for the coming years.Frankly, I had written off the idea of the Oilers going Swede this year, especially considering how few picks (5) they had at their disposal in the NHL Entry Draft.Selected 103 overall, Johan Motin joins the likes of William Quist, Linus Omark and Björn Bjurling as active Oiler draft picks from, and playing in, Sweden.The Oilers development system seems to have burgeoned in the past couple years. The direct emergence of young talents like Sam Gagner & Andrew Cogliano along with a gain of depth in all positions allowed Kevin Lowe and entourage to follow a simple draft day strategy. At approximately 5:07 of this clip, Kevin Lowe mentions having seen Motin a couple years ago at the Under 18 World Hockey Tournament. At that time, scouts were projecting Motin as a top 10 pick and yet there he was, still available to the Oilers in the 4th round.What changed? Well, not so much one realises after having scoured the internet via a Google News (in Swedish) search.MOTIN: A GOOGLE NEWS SEARCH (SWEDISH VERSION)TELEVISION: SVT reported March 5, 2007 about the poise Johan Motin has shown since his call-up to the bright lights of the Elite Series. His size and stability are noted as having been advantageous in handling the big league and when asked what he will work on most in the near future, Motin says primarily his shot. PRINT: NWT - Sept 19, 2007. Season preview of Färjestad's team and their young talent Johan Motin. He is studying public/society economics at Tingvalla high school. Motin got prime ice-time last season with Czech veteran Robert Kantor. His first big league fight was with scrappy Finn Sami Torkki, which he claims to have won by "falldown". Motin takes the bus to school and says that he tries to be a normal teen because "one must have one's feet on the ground. I want to finish school in the best way possible, because there will come a life after hockey." WEBSITE Kanon wrote about Motin's loan to Allsvenska club Bofors on Nov 21, 2007. Färjestad fired coach Roger Melin and new bench boss (Tommy Samuelsson) played primarily with only 6 D-men. With development and increased ice-time in mind, Färjestad loaned Motin to Bofors, in his home town of Karlskoga. More ice-time was vital given the forthcoming World Junior Championships that was to occur later in 2007 in the Czech Republic. He went on to appear in 15 matches with Bofors IK.BLOGS: Scouting report HockeyMagasinet 2007-09-03 "his mature and unafraid play impressed the Färjestad executive that offered him a 3 year contract in March 2007... his strong play in the U18 tournament (Sweden won bronze) garnered him the award for best Swedish player and he recorded 3 assists in 5 matches. He is a proven winner, having hardware from having won TV Pucken (Swedish rep. team tournament), the Swedish J18 league (junior) championship and a bronze a the U18 Worlds".Why Johan Motin was drafted in round 4, as compared to Sept 2007 round 1 estimates, is likely due to two factors. Firstly, his move to Bofors looks bad on paper - like a demotion. The reality is that his new coach came under intense pressure to get Färjestad back into winning form and that meant veterans on defense. Motin's youth and development were recognized and he needed more playing t[...]

Sweden - Canada: An Olympic Clash


August 12 in Beijing, China. Women's Olympic Soccer (hereafter known as football).Nr. 9 ranked Canada faces nr. 3 ranked Sweden in Olympic competition.Previews: FIFA has done one and also here. CBC preview (by former Canadian national team defender Jason De Vos).In red will be a generation of girls who have together grown to become Canada's Women's National team (WNT). In blue/yellow, a routine laden bunch of tactical and talented Swedes. It is the likes of youngster Kara Lang - who has been on the national team since she was 15, goal machine Christine Sinclair - now 93 goals in 124 games for the WNT! (Sinclair's Olympic blog is here), and 2007 player of the year Rhian Wilkinson complements a full cast of hard working young women. Most have gone (or are going) to American universities and/or ply their trade at the National Soccer Academy in Vancouver.This is the profile of the women going up against seasoned pros from what is likely the best women's league in the world, the Damallsvenska. Led by Viktoria Svensson, Lotta Schelin and anchored by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.Swedish media, such as here, have looked past Canada from the very beginning. Most news outlets chose China and Sweden to advance, even though China is ranked 14th by FIFA. Perhaps drawing on China's second place finish at World Cup 1999, or that they host this Olympiad, many have heightened expectations for the PRC. When Sweden came out flat against the Chinese in the first game and lost 2-0, it further elevated China and put question marks in the minds of many a Swede. Yet along came the 'dump and chase' style of Canada, who mysteriously proceeded to dominate versus China. In fact, Canada should have won Saturday's 1-1 match in Tianjin considering the amount of shots, and percentage of play they found.So what is in store on Tuesday. It is not comparable to any Sweden vs. Canada ice hockey match-up. In this case, Sweden holds the upper-hand in experience and respect. Yet two very different team have shown up based on expectations. Sweden has under-achieved and Canada has been surprisingly dominant. The real test will be tomorrow.Odds are it will be a phenomenal chance for Canada to prove its footie-value on the world's stage. Unfortunately, this writer believes their dump and chase strategy will be their downfall against the tactically sound Swedes. As much as I hope for a breakthrough for Canadian footie, it requires a stronger back line, a smarter tactic versus a European style, and a patience in ball possession that would flow throughout the whole team, and not just a lone few.My prediction: Sweden 2 - Canada 1 (Sweden scoring in the 91st minute - injury time - after a defensive lapse by Canada).[...]

Hope for a Big Footie Weekend


Euro 2008 is progressing through the second set of matches and Saturday will be the highly-touted Spaniards vs. Sweden in Group D.For the first 67 agonizing minutes against Greece, it was boring, tactical soccer (hereafter known as football). Then, a quick give-and-go via Henrik Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's right foot secured Sweden a 3 point win, and momentum into Saturday's match against Spain.It will be a completely different battle than that versus Greece. The creative Spaniards are known to make the simple look difficult and the difficult look simple. What is more, they are a talented team composed of rivalling factions - defenders Ramos (Real Madrid) and Puyol (FC Barcelona) reportedly had a yelling match during the first 10 minutes of their opening match against Russia. Sweden will need to control the midfield and have solid communication along the backline. Two problems of this strategy are in the form of injuries to speedy right midfielder, and lone La Liga player, Christian Wilhelmsson and experienced back Niklas Alexandersson. In their two meetings during Euro qualifying, Sweden won at home 2-0 (fall of 2006!), and lost in Madrid, 3-0.If I were coach Lagerbäck, I'd be studying film of Manchester United's 1-0 win over Barcelona in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semi-final. It may not be completely an apples to apples comparison, although it was a brilliant demonstration of how to stifle and counter the lively tick-tack-toe Spanish style. I hope for a draw. ---Sunday, June 15, sees the Canadian national team (ranked 60) begin its quest for South Africa 2010 as the men's national team faces island nation, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (ranked 147). Hopes for this team are high, as the bitter taste of 2006's World Cup campaign fell enormously short of expectations.Much talk on the forums of have been over the surprise roster spot given to Nigerian born, Ugo Ihemelu. Strangely enough, the Colorado Rapids player holds both Canadian and American citizenship and played 14 minutes of a 2006 friendly against Norway. The key issue is that those 14 minutes were for the United States national team. Word going around the forums is that the friendly was a so-called B-game and he is apparently still able to change nations. One would hope the CSA has done the due diligence to ensure Ihemelu is eligible for Canada. I have hopes for a significant win to start the WC campaign. Mid-fielder Julian De Guzman may be injured, but the rest of the "Golden Generation" will be on the pitch and ready to pummel the St VAG zone with offence.UPDATE: the Globe and Mail published an article where a couple players spoke out about the disorganization at the CSA. It is refreshing to hear that is not just us fans who are frustrated.----Finally, on a "Canadians in Sweden" note, Hammarby IF had 3 young Canadians on trial at the end of May.Tyler Hemming, Vahid Assadpour and Tosaint Ricketts got a good look during a week of trainings. Though none were offered contracts, it is promising to see that young Canadians are getting attention at this level.Hammarby coach, Tony Gustavsson had some kind, yet constructive critique for the lads.Translated from the site:Among this week's guests, he (Tosaint Ricketts) stood out. He was quickest of allparticipants in the team's physical training tests, conducted Tuesday (May20th).Quoting coach Tony Gustavsson "He confirmed the physical assets I'd heardabout, he's a player with unique agility and quickness. It was almost awful,in a positive way of cours[...]

EURO 2008 - Sweden vs. Greece


Tonight, Sweden jumps into the fray among the 16 nations fighting for European soccer (hereafter known as football) supremacy. The match against defending champions Greece will be a vital benchmark for the hopes of both teams.

Sweden made Euro2008 after finishing second to Spain in what was a rollercoaster qualifying campaign. For every dominant performance, such as the 2-0 home win over Spain, there would be an uninspired 2-1 loss to the likes of Northern Ireland. Amongst all this, one never really got a sense of who was the real Swedish team. Never mind the fact that qualifying also included a near debacle in the form of the bizarre 3-0 default win over Denmark*.
With a roster composed of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fredrik Ljungberg and Henrik Larsson, the Swedes should be almost feared when it is a big competition. Unfortunately, the cast of players is not all a Zlatan, Freddie or Henke. Although it is a blend of experience with youth and European league stars with domestic dignataries, one can only hope the team gels and that a top class team shows up tonight.
It is not that Sweden is inexperienced, internationally. In fact, Sweden is in its fifth straight international tournament (Euro 2000, 04, 08 & World Cup 02, 06) and will field a team quite similar to that which exited the 2006 World Cup in the quarter-finals against the host Germans.
Most of this nation is football mad at the moment. Every possible newspaper is pushing their own “exclusive Euro2008 supplement” or major retailers flog their own blue and yellow merchandise.
I have yet to see a media outlet, even most of the Swedish ones, give the Swedish team much hope of advancing past the quarter-finals. That said, this is the European Championship, and like Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004, with a bit of teamwork and luck, any country can win it all. Greece proved in 2004 that a strong defensive strategy can win a championship.

I think an aggressive start will go a long way in facing Greece. The offensive weapons of Zlatan and Henke (Larsson) need to be exploited and Greece’s defensive wall must fall.

By my assessment, Sweden needs at least 4 points (one win, one tie) to emerge from this group. Spain is a heavy favourite and Russia is a wildcard. Greece, though defending champs, are a team Sweden needs to overcome in order to set the record straight that the real Swedish team has shown up to European football’s big dance.

* Sweden led 3-0 after 30 minutes only for Denmark to claw back to 3-3 by the 85th minute, at which time a Danish defender sucker punched Swede Marcus Rosenberg in the penalty area which was a red card to Denmark & penalty shot for Sweden. The penalty shot never got taken, as directly after the red card, a Danish spectator stormed the pitch and attacked the referee. The match was stopped and eventually forfeited. The 3-0 result was awarded to Sweden.

Sweden's National Day


Yesterday, the Swedish Red Wings, er, check that... Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Niklas Lidström became the first non-North American to captain a Stanley Cup champion (only the second non-Canadian, if I'm not mistaken) and Henrik Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP.

What's more, today, June 6, is the National Day of Sweden. It was 485 years ago that Gustaf Vasa was elected king, forming what is considered to be modern Sweden.

If anything, this cataclysm of events deserves a cheezy photo set-up.

Yay Sweden... Tomorrow, it's back to Oh Canada and Go Oilers Go!

Canada vs. Mexico = Tip Top vs. Armani


Comparing Canada’s national team coach Dale Mitchell to Swede Sven-Göran Eriksson is like comparing Tip Top Tailors to Georgio Armani. In both cases, one can still show up to the show looking good, but it is really a question of quality, style and above all, money.The worst kept secret in soccer (hereafter known as football) has finally been made official. Sven-Göran Eriksson, along with his entourage of Tord Grip and Hans “Hasse” Backe, have been named to lead the Mexican national football team, El Tri.Mexico has paid a sweet bit of money (2 year - $7.5 Million contract) to gain the services of “Svennis” but the return is a proven commodity. Sven is a magnet for winning. As early as 1982 he took the small Swedish club (small by European standards) IFK Göteborg all the way to the UEFA Cup, and won it all, not to mention also winning their own domestic league and Swedish Cup that same year. Svennis has won in Italy, with Lazio, Roma (Coppa Italia ‘86), Fiorentina, and Sampdoria (Coppa Italia ‘94) and Portugal (Benefica). The most recent exploits with England’s national team and Manchester City have been well documented by the vicious, yet loving (tongue-in–cheek), British media.Although he may be a magnet for success, he also is a magnet of the ladies and controversy. He often spiced up the tabloids when his famous British ladies spoke out. Or, what British football fan could forget the sense of betrail when news broke of his secret meetings/job interview with a Saudi sheikh (in reality a News of the World reporter posing as one)? Despite the scandals, he always seems to somehow conduct himself with poise, yet also maintain an image as shrewd business man and coach. One wonders how he can achieve such success with such a mild mannered demeanour. Must be the suits...A jump across the pond to CONCACAF should lead to more success for the man from Sweden's Värmland, and Canada will get to experience it first hand.If Canada wins it’s upcoming series vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines (which they should) and Mexico disposes of Belize, the two will face each other in stage 3 of World Cup qualifying.Mexico has always been a powerhouse in CONCACAF and with this move, they can only continue to improve. Their domestic league is strong and they are arguably one of the prime football cultures in the Americas, after Brasil and Argentina.Quoting Mexican sports analyst David Faitelson about Eriksson's appointment:I celebrate, applaud and delight in the decision Mexican football has taken today. Not only is it about the arrival of Sven-Goran Eriksson... it's about a new conviction and desire on the part of those in charge of Mexican football to explore the kind of horizons we wouldn't have dared look at in the past.The Canada Soccer Association (CSA) and Dale Mitchell on the other hand, are scraping themselves back into shape after a debacle of resignations and infighting among the CSA executive.Mitchell's credentials are hardly inspiring in light of Eriksson's. Dale Mitchell never played professional football outside of North America, although he was well capped with the Canadian national team. As a player, he appeared in the '84 Olympics and the '86 World Cup. Prior to taking over the nation's top team, he was at the helm of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the U20 national team. This is hardly a top-class, international football cv, but with consideration to David Faitelson's quote, it is about as fa[...]

World Championships Preview


The World Championships begin today. Denmark is playing the Czech Republic as I type.

Canada is the defending champs and on home soil. Sweden won in 2006.

The Edmonton Oilers have a number of players involved.
CANADA: Sam Gagner, Steve Staios, Mathieu Garon, Craig MacTavish (
USA: Matt Greene, Tom Gilbert
SWEDEN: Robert Nilsson
CZECH REP: Ladislav Smid
RUSSIA: Denis Grebeshkov

I suspect it will be the normal suspects (Can, US, Swe, Russia, Fin, Czech) will easily go through to the qualification round. Groups A & D will meet in this stage thus preventing a possible Sweden vs. Canada match up until the knock-out round.

The heated match-ups really begin next week.

Meanwhile, Swedes, including the Brunnström love-in, are in profile on the NHL site.