I can’t say with certainty that Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland has a secret master strategy to develop the depth of his team, but it sure looks like that.
It goes like this: search the significant European leagues each year, recognize the fastest skating complimentary agent veterans who also possess high levels of competitive fire and hockey IQ, then try to sign them to deal, short-term NHL offers.
In 2019, Holland made 2 such signings who fit that exact description, Gaetan Haas from Bern SC of the Swiss League and Joakim Nygard of Farjestads BK Karlstad of the Swedish Elite League.
Both Haas and Nygard did enough to merit new agreements with the Oilers for the coming season.
This year, Holland has actually done it once again, signing Theodor Lennstrom, 26, of Frolunda HC of the SEL to a 1 year Entry Level Contract for $925,00 0.
My first impression of Lennstrom from seeing Swedish League video games this year is that he’ll push tough to make the Oilers this year, just as Haas and Nygard did last year. I would not be surprised if Lennstrom wins a brand-new contract as well down the roadway.
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He’s got “solid professional hockey gamer” written all over his video game.
Here are my latest game grades on Lennstrom and other Oilers signings and draft choices now playing in Euro leagues:
Theodor Lennstrom, Frolunda, 2, vs Lulea, 0. Nov.10 Grade 7. On his very first shift, Lennstrom got the puck in the o-zone near the blueline, got his feet moving, faked an enter the middle of the ice to shake off one checker, kept moving towards the corner, faked a shot on net to fool another protector and open up a shooting lane, which he then utilized to get a tricky shot on an evaluated goalie. That’s Lennstrom, full of smarts, guile, deception. He’s likewise a fast, nimble skater, which permits him to dart quickly up on the attack with full confidence, knowing if things break down he can return to defend.
Lennstrom does whatever quickly on the ice, walking the line, separating plays in the neutral zone, getting back to the puck on dump-ins. It’s as if the guy is all quick jerk muscles. But he’s likewise got those hockey smarts, for example when he covered the assailant without the puck on a two-on-one, understanding that this aggressor was the real threat guy, and permitting the goalie to take the shooter. He did lose one battle in tight to enable a likelihood versus. He’s not best but he’s got plenty of game. Against Luluea, he played just 15:51 He’s getting two or three minutes less per game this year than in 2015. Could this decline is because he’s quickly moving on to North America?
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Evan Bouchard of Sodertalje, 4, vs Karlskoga, 3, Nov. 8. Grade 8. If Lennstrom is all quick twitch, Bouchard is the opposite, Mr. Slow Twitch. They’re both exceptional in Sweden this year, Bouchard playing in the 2nd Division, where he’s now got 13 points in 17 games, putting him in the Leading 20 for league scoring.
I had not seen Bouchard play considering that January and had actually forgotten just how gifted this player is. Yes, he’s playing in a lower quality professional league here, but he’s squashing it with his strangely precise passing and shooting video game. I ‘d hate to play darts versus this person.
He put up 3 points this video game, one on a highlight reel objective where he circumnavigated the o-zone prior to barging into the slot and shooting home a shot. But all video game his play was marked by pass after pass right on the tape and by difficult shots directed towards the internet. Twice he put passes right on the cash however likewise right through the skates of opposing players. It’s nearly as if his passes were assisted by lasers. While Bouchard never looks hurried, he did move awfully quick while jumping up into the rush, moving faster than I remember him entering the past. He likewise revealed some fire; after a player tripped him, he got up and roughed him up a bit. It was his passing that wowed me this video game, so much so that every time his group had the puck in the offending zone I was thinking they were nuts not to pass it to him at every chance due to the fact that you just knew something great was going to happen.
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William Lagesson of Vita Hasten, 5, vs Vasby, 2, Nov. 9. Grade 6. Wild Bill, too, remains in the Swedish Second Department and he’s likewise prospering, with nine points in 9 video games, good for 43 rd in league scoring. He rarely played the power play in Bakersfield of the AHL but he is getting that chance in Sweden this year. On a strong Vita Hasten unit, he plays the Oscar Klefbom role, quickly and efficiently moving the puck from the point, and he’s doing it well. After seeing Bouchard’s passing display screen, Lagesson’s work in this department seemed pedestrian at even strength, though he typically got the job done. He showed his normal fight in front of his own web, threw one nasty hit, and skated the puck out of trouble when required. He played 23: 25 this video game, about his average for the season.
Joakim Nygard, Farjestad BK, 3, vs Leksand, 2, Nov10 Grade 6. Nygard broke his hand in a game against Calgary last January, then re-injured it in late September in Sweden, but he’s back in action now. Lots of aspects of his fast, pesky and smart video game are already back, but the timing that made him a leading SEL scorer two seasons earlier is still missing. This game he was digging in, tossing his body and stick here and there to separate plays, and making challenging cuts with the puck, then shooting off passes, however he still seems lacking that bit of polish that will enable his close calls near the internet to end up as objectives. In six video games this year, he’s got just one help and no goals. His finest minute versus Leksand came when he utilized his blazing speed to break down the wing and established a dangerous shot. The legs look fine, the hands appear fight ready and evaluated. The points will come.
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Philip Broberg of Skelleftea, 1, vs Linkopings, 2, Nov.10 Video game Grade 6. Previous Oilers goalie Mike Zanier has actually stated on Oilers Now that he forecasts Broberg as perhaps a four, five or 6 NHL d-men. I forecast him as a one or a two. He’s a 19- year-old with good skill, terrific size, even better skating capability, and he’s currently playing solid hockey as a Top 4 d-man in the SEL. In this video game, he fired 7 chance ats net, getting four on objective. He did a great job covering off the danger man on a two-on-one and letting the goalie take the shooter. He chose off passes and made protective stops all over the ice. On the downside, he got undressed by a slick stickhandler on one rush. He was likewise possibly a bit too fixed on Linkopings winning objective, sticking too near his own guy even as another aggressor hurried dangerously into the slot to rating. But he was out on the 6-on-5 when his team required a goal in the last minutes. In general, he’s now playing a clever, safe game, rapidly and efficiently moving the puck when he gets it. I ‘d choose to see him hurry it more, trying to much better exploit his magnificent speed, however perhaps it’s finest that he (the youngest gamer on his pro squad) play it safe for now, as he’s normally doing.
Ryan McLeod of Zug, 5, vs Biel-Bienne, 4, Nov.10 Grade 4. On the plus side, McLeod won 9 of 13 faceoffs in his 11: 21 of playing time. He also showed lots of hustle, set up a teammate for a Grade A slot shot with a sweet backhand pass, and had a couple of shifts where he was buzzing and flying, as he’s capable of doing with his size and speed. However when he left the charge box in the first duration, he was likewise the offender who permitted a cross-seam pass on an objective versus, hence his lower mark.