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  1. Canucks fans and hockey enthusiasts...today is 2010 Draft Day in the NHL. One of the most exciting and optimistic days among fans and glorious and dicey among management. The perfect storm in Fandom. What we all want is solid information. Well, a whole year has passed since Vancouver selected Swedish winger Anton Rödin with the 53rd overall pick. He has had a year more of development and I took the opportunity to catch up with my Swedish hockey insider Johan Nilsson of EliteProspects.com . It covers the 2010 World Junior Championships, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (EDM), his role in the Swedish Elite League currently, and more. Anton Rödin was Vancouver’s 2nd round selection (53rd overall) just one year ago. In reviewing a number of the Canucks’ prospects, the youngster from Sweden had obviously impressed the brass with his play in his 2nd tier league back home – enough to get the call in the second round. It was his play since in the 2010 World Junior Championships that left me impressed. I always watch the tournament closely and despite being slack-jawed at the performance of New Jersey Devils’ future winger Mattias Tedenby, Rödin’s play was also remarkable. While slight, he makes things happen and can be a catalyst on both offense and defense. He played in the Swedish Elite League for part this season and is set for another. There are definitely some intangibles in his favour. I caught up with my colleague Johan Nilsson, the webmaster from Elite Prospects this week and got the low-down on a special prospect for a rabid fan-base: Robin: There is a preconception out there that Rödin is a slick offensive player and that his defensive game is sound as well. Can you elaborate on that for our readers and possibly highlight how he might fit in amongst some pretty dynamic young forwards coming into Vancouver’s plans such as Cody Hodgson, Michael Grabner, and Jordan Schroeder? Johan @ EP: The good thing with Rödin is that I feel he can develop into a good team/role player in case he does not make it as a scoring line player. He plays with such intensity and speed, so he could turn out to be a very valuable fore-checking forward. Still, I hope he manages to translate his offense to the NHL, but first of all he needs to the same in a men’s league in Sweden. I do see a future NHLer in him, though, it remains to be seen in which role though. Seems pretty wide open to me at this point. Robin: Rödin had a pretty incredible 2010 World Junior Championships performance, despite Sweden not doing as well as projected by many, including myself. What was his niche on that team and how did he expand his role? Johan @ EP: He was not relied on to be one of the top scoring players prior to the tournament, but ended up second on the team in points. He was supposed to play a good two-way game and chip in offensively once in a while, but quickly became on one of the top offensive players on the team, often creating scoring changes on his own. Sweden’s top three lines received pretty much the same amount of ice time and Rödin’s role was the same, more or less, throughout the tournament. Robin: Does Rödin’s noted offensive skills have more room to develop, or is it his core strength or size that needs to be brought along? Johan @ EP: There is certainly room for improvement, since he has yet to translate his productivity to men’s hockey. He must learn where to be positioned and so on while facing better defensemen than those he did in the juniors. He is pretty shifty and smart though, so I think he will figure it out.. hopefully this upcoming season. Robin: There are some comparisons between Rödin with fellow Swede, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson. How much of this do you think is fair? Johan @ EP: Pääjärvi’s upside is greater. I see him potentially becoming a player to finish among the top 10 point scorers in the NHL, but I do not think Rödin’s ceiling is that high. They both have the speed in common and offensive awareness, but I think Pääjärvi is more mature, obviously stronger and more explosive and also he covers the puck better and thus gets more time to deliver good passes. Robin: How has the Stockholm-born winger’s physical game advanced after a full season in the SEL and how do you see him getting an opportunity down the road with Vancouver? He recently signed a contract with the Canucks, but it seems that he has at least another season left in your backyard. Johan @ EP: It is difficult to say just after one season playing in a men’s league (often with very limited ice time). The previous season he dominated the juniors and his physical strength was rarely tested. This past season, obviously it was tougher, but to know for sure how he has progressed in that regard, one would have to compare his season to the upcoming season. I hope to see him get more minutes now while being lent out to Brynäs after signing the deal with the Canucks. Robin: Certainly glad you could sit down and chat with us Johan. http://prosportsblog...odin-interview/ 25 June 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson www.chillerinstinct.com
  2. <img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/09/kessel_burke_205x115.jpg" class="imageFloatRightFramed">An abysmal team like the Leafs already get too much attention on these boards without me tossing my two cents into the growing pile of change, but I simply have to get something off my chest. I want to know exactly what the hell the Leafs were thinking with that Kessel deal. Seriously, what were they thinking when they did that deal? I really like Dave Nonis and think his unwavering commitment to his own vision was what eventually led to his dismissal in Vancouver. I have generally agreed with Dave's thinking – even the Chouinard and and Bulis signings, which were calculated gambles that didn't pan out – but Kessel? Let's look at this. The deal was Kessel for a first and a second round pick in 2010, and a first round pick in 2011. Toronto just stinks. That's a given. They are guaranteed a bottom five finish for this season and next – barring some <a href=" target=_new>Disneyesque miracle</a> that would see Kurt Russell step behind the bench and push the Leafs to an Olympic gold medal with Emelio Esteves riding shot gun. <img src="http://blog.ugo.com/images/uploads/snake_plissken_efny.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Assuming <a href=" target=_new>Kurt "Snake Pliskin" Russell</a> doesn't rescue President Burke from post-apocalypse Toronto, the Leafs are trading two picks that can be no worse than fifth overall… and a second-rounder. I will try to apply some real-world perspective on this by looking back a few seasons. Let's say the dice don't roll the Leafs' way and they end up with third overall picks this year and next, and never do get a first-overall (as we know the NHL uses a weighted lottery system to determine which of the bottom five teams actually get the first overall pick). And for the sake of this discussion, let's ignore the fact that experts are as high on the 2010 draft class as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Feiw_etAra0" target=_new>Britney is on Youtube</a>. We'll also ignore the past three drafts because those youngsters have yet to really find their game at the NHL level. So, exactly what did the Leafs surrender to acquire Kessel? The top five picks in 2006 were: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom and yes, Phil Kessel himself. Assuming the Leafs hit the sweet spot and picked third, they would have Toews. We have to throw out 2005 because it was the post-lockout draft and was as ripe with two season's worth of talent, but the top five was: Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson, Benoit Pouliot and Carey Price. For the record, it would've been Johnson. <img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/blackhawks/images/upload/2009/08/CB306x172.gif" class="imageFloatRightFramed">The 2004 year went: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Cam Barker, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler. Again, eliminating the possibility that the Leafs might've actually gone off the chart and dipped for a player like, say Wojtek Wolski (21st) or Mike Green (29th), the Leafs would've ended up with Barker. The third pick in 2003? Nathan Horton. In 2002, Jay Bouwmeester. In 2001, Aleander Svitov. In 2000, Marian Gaborik. The top second round picks from 2006 and earlier were: Tomas Kana, James Neal, Alex Edler & Johan Franzen, Patrice Bergeron & Shea Weber, Jarret Stoll & Trevor Daley. THUS, we can project that the Leafs gave up a Jonathan Toews and Cam Barker (and possibly Nathan Horton/Jay Bouwmeester), along with a second round player that's somewhere between Tomas Kana, Johan Franzen and Shea Weber. Good deal? What the hell were they thinking? Ignoring the possibility that the two-headed Burk-onis creature is actually an evil double agent and is doing the rest of Canada a favour by running the franchise into the ground, the only other plausible explanation is that the duo has already abandoned their plan to build through the draft, and instead, attempting to secure a solid young player like Kessel who they can build around in free agency. Either that or they're just drunk. It's 50/50.