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 Sweden
  • Canadians that play in Swedish clubs
  • Interesting Swedish prospects or talents
  • The Swedish system of sport (for instance: promotion/demotion in hockey)
  • Battles between Canada and Sweden
  • Obscure 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.

Reports 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:


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 wildly successful impact in Ängelholm finishing 1st & 2nd in scoring; 39 (18G,21A) & 38 (18G,20A) points respectively.

No definitive details are known of their future, though if Omark and Harju can be lured East, so too could the Abbotts. And we all thought the KHL was set to collapse under economic uncertainty. Meh.
Update: According to Jonas Gustavsson at hockeysverige.se the Abbotts will be in Luleå next year. With the departure of Harju and Omark, they apparently had an opening.