Richard Wolowicz

Filip Forsberg is likely to spend next season in Sweden


Filip Forsberg is one of the most promising forwards in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft. NHL Central Scouting ranked him first among draft-eligible European skaters. Whoever takes him might end up with a gem. Just not next season.

“I would be surprised if he would be NHL-ready now,” Forsberg’s agent, Claus Elefalk said. “In two years, probably. He is two years younger than [New Jersey defenseman] Adam Larsson, and Larsson just came into play this year. He’s two years younger than [Colorado forward Gabriel] Landeskog.”

Forsberg added that he still has one year left on his contract with Leksand in Sweden.

If you’re not familiar with Forsberg, then in answer to your first question: no, he is not related to former NHL superstar Peter Forsberg. However, Elefalk said that he has Peter’s “competitive spirit.” Still, he has more of a “Markus Naslund-type” player in his agent’s eyes.

He also left an impression on NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb.

“Every game I watched him play, he always scored the big goals at the right moment,” Stubb said. “Whether it was in the middle of the game or in the final minute, he got it done. He’s big, strong and can skate.”

Stubb called Forsberg a leader by example and sees a little bit of Corey Perry in him.

“He’s a creative playmaker, good skater with fine straight-ahead speed,” Stubb added. “He’s a right-handed forward with an excellent shot and an effective two-way player with a great winning attitude.

“Filip’s a solid puck carrier with very good puck-handling skills, mature, good size and physically strong. On top of that, he’ll sacrifice himself to make the play.”

So, in summary, if your team drafts Forsberg, there are plenty of reasons to get excited. Just don’t expect immediate results.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.