Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Backlund will stay in North America

For the 20 players that made up Sweden's junior team, only 18 of them will be heading home. One of the two that is staying in North America is Oscar Moller who will rejoin the Kings. The other will be Mikael Backlund as he's ready to play in North America and most likely for the Kelowna Rockets.

"I'm going to play here the rest of the season," the 19-year-old centre said Tuesday night from the Pengrowth Saddledome, where he attended the Calgary-San Jose game as a guest of Flames GM Darryl Sutter.

"I don't really know where I'm going to play, it's up to Darryl Sutter to decide. I'm going to be here for some days and just relaxing and taking it easy and then Darryl will decide where I'm going to play."

It's been the worst kept secret the last couple of weeks. This came about with his club team back in Sweden wasn't happy with the way he had been playing. He had four goals and four assists in 17 games with Västerås of the Allsvenskan. It's been reported that they were going to release him if he had a poor showing at the World Junior Championships. The General Manager backed off those comments a few days ago.

During the telecast of the Gold Medal game, it was mentioned that his playing time had been reduced because he was going to North Americal for the 2009-2010 season. That just amazes me how some teams in Europe do their business. Punishing players (mostly teenagers) for what might happen down the road. I know European nations aren't to fond of the NHL and how they pick up their young talent. They know its going to happen, why don't you use the player when you still have a chance?

Another example would be Adam Bezak of Slovakia. The Junior team forced him to stay in Slovakia this season or his spot on the National Junior team wouldn't be guaranteed. He spent last year with the Moncton Wildcats. Like Backlund, Bezak is expected to head back to the major junior ranks and rejoin the Moncton Wildcats.

Too bad Darryl Sutter doesn't have more time to make his decision. Backlund has to be signed by the Kelowna Rockets by the WHL trade deadline which is January 10th. Sutter could of giving Backlund a tryout with the Quad City Flames but I highly doubt he's ready for the AHL but it would be worth the shot.

In other WHL news, the Spokane Chiefs will get Ondrej Roman back. He spent the first half of the year playing for Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga. I believe he went back on his own. It appears Tomas Vosvrda won't be heading to the Portland Winterhawks. The Czrch goaltender was released by the Medicene Hat Tigers over the summer.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

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