Monday, April 28, 2008

Brunnstrom Watch: Day one

Fabian Brunnstrom. The Swedish phenom. You may recognize his name. He's been called the next Daniel Alfredsson by The Hockey News. And he might be coming to the Senators.

A lot of sources had him all but confirmed to sign with the Vancouver Canucks, as reported by CBC's Scott Morrison. But, with the firing of former Canucks GM Dave Nonis, that deal is filled with uncertainty (reports indicate he's put off accepting an offer from Vancouver). Morrison said that the other front-runners in the Brunnstrom Sweepstakes are the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Anaheim Ducks. And some have mentioned the Senators as a possibility, as well, and what better place for the next Daniel Alfredsson than the home of the current Daniel Alfredsson?

According to The Fourth Period blog, who cited the Ottawa Sun (how did I miss that story?), Sens GM Bryan Murray made a pitch for Brunnstrom demonstrating the benefits playing for the Sens organization would bring. According to this story by Slam! Sports, though, Brunnstrom is looking for whichever situation gives him the best opportunity to break in right away, meaning the terrible, terrible Toronto Maple Leafs could be the front-runners.

The last time the Sens semi-committed to giving a player a spot without a tryout was the Alexei Kaigorodov experiment, and that failed miserably. (For those who don't remember, Kaigs was rumoured to be the Sens long-anticipated second-line centre, until he wasn't good enough, got sent to the farm team, refused to report, went back to Russia, and bashed the Sens coaching staff to Russian media for not giving him a shot. Not a great start.)

Although Brunnstrom started strongly, he fizzled as the season went on. Do we want to run the risk of making the same mistake we made with Kaigorodov again? Can we afford not to try, in case he really is as good as Alfredsson? I guess we have to put our faith in Murray to figure out if Brunnstrom is as good as people seem to think.

Here is what THN has to say about Brunnstrom:
"He's the first of a lot of players from Europe you're going to see in this situation," said the [anonymous] assistant GM. "It used to be you waited for European players. Lots of times you would draft them and keep them over there for four or five years to see how they develop. Well, you can't do that anymore."

Brunnstrom, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward, is a classic late bloomer. Last season he was playing First Division in Sweden, which is two steps under the Elite League and was a star at that level, which prompted Farjestad to sign him this season. He skates very well and his three goals and 13 points in 21 games are probably not a clear indication of how good he is offensively.
For anyone interested, here is a sampling of some highlights, courtesy of YouTube (as linked from THN):

Time will tell. We'll try and keep you posted on the developments as they come about.
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