Swedes slow to start 2013

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Fresh of a very disappointing two-player first round in 2012, the Swedish draft class of 2013 has started their journey to New Jersey’s Prudential Center.

But while three names already can be pinpointed as clear-cut first rounders, none of the big names out of Sweden have gotten off to fantastic starts.

Elias Lindholm, Sweden’s top export, has been bouncing between non-existent and little ice time this season,  typically playing under 15 minutes per game early in Brynäs’ SEL campaign. While he certainly hasn’t looked out of place when he’s been on the ice, there’s reason to be disappointed with him not being a regular player from the get-go this year.

He did record his first point of the campaign – and his SEL career – this week, and as evidenced by last year’s second rounder Sebastian Collberg, that’s not always the easiest in the Swedish pro leagues.

Every time Lindholm, who has no relation to Anaheim Ducks first rounder Hampus Lindholm, has been playing with skilled players, he’s been looking like the real deal, so there’s no reason to worry about his development chart, but he would ideally get more exposure with more action.

Another top player struggling to get SEL ice-time is big Modo defenseman Robert Hägg. While he is playing lots and in all situations with Modo’s U20 affiliate, it’s definitely not a step forward in competition from last year when he recorded 17 (4+13) points in 44 games in the very same league. However, as the captain and go-to-guy for that team, he will have time and opportunities to hone his offensive skill on a level he’s comfortable playing which obviously isn’t a bad thing.

Pegged as a lock for the first round, André Burakowsky finds himself in a similar ice-time situation as Lindholm and has yet to show up on the score sheet a few weeks into the SEL-2 season.

Hopefully, all three of these players will eventually get more playing time, and in the cases of Lindholm and Burakowsky, they absolutely should, as they’ve been impressive in short stints. With Hägg, a loan to an SEL-2 team might be a good step to take as a roster spot on the big club seems to be out of reach at the moment.

Lucas Wallmark started the year with a game on the top line for championship contender Skellefteå of the SEL, but as key players have returned from injury, he was abruptly demoted to the junior team where the skilled center has continued to show his great playmaking skills.

However, having been a point-per-game player in the top under-20 league last year, Skellefteå’s U20 affiliate is not the ideal competition to face for Wallmark if he wants to continue to make his case for a stage entrance on the first day in Newark.

Jacob de la Rose has definitely not been easy on SEL-2 defenders this season, chasing pucks with intensity and finishing checks at every opportunity while looking to inflict some pain. The big winger hasn’t yet had any chance to prove himself as a scorer at the pro level partly due to his somewhat limited role, but he’s definitely made his mark as a checking forward for Andreas Appelgren’s team.

One player worth mentioning who didn’t enter the 2012-2013 season with as much hype as the other five is defenseman Linus Arnesson, who’s been splitting time between Djurgården’s senior and junior teams. Arnesson has looked extremely impressive in his games in the Swedish second-tier league, and will be one to watch this season as he attempts to climb the rankings.

Will Arnesson, de la Rose, Lindholm and Hagg be enough to forget a mediocre 2012 class? With a quick rebound from a slow start, it’s entirely likely.

Article by Patrik Hall.

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