When the Washington Capitals let Alex Semin walk last summer, they left a big hole in their top six. That hole has not been permanently filled yet, but there are two talented draft picks who might be a good fit in the future: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Filip Forsberg.
After winning the HockeyAllsvenskan’s regular-season championship, Leksands IF and Caps prospect Filip Forsberg secured a place in the Kvalserien — a 10-game round-robin tournament featuring the four best Allsvenskan teams and two worst Elitserien teams. The franchises duke it out to decide which two clubs will play in the top-tier Elitserien next season.
Leksand got a few weeks of rest before tourney while other teams fought for wildcard spots. The break sure seemed to help Leksand, who beat Sodertalje SK and the Nylanders 3-1 in the Kvalserien’s first game in front of a sizable crowd (6,772). Forsberg showed off his skill and speed, scoring twice in the win. His second goal was the game-winner.
Michael and William Nylander. (Photo credit: Scanpix)
Michael Nylander appeared in only parts of four seasons with the Washington Capitals, but he’s remembered by fans both for his play and the way he left the organization. The talented Swedish center played on the early 2000′s Capitals teams with Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, and Jaromir Jagr. He also helped mentor Nicklas Backstrom in a second tour with the team from 2007-2009.
But after signing a four-year $19.5 million contract to be the top center of the Caps in 2007, Nyles tore his rotator cuff and was never the same. With the Capitals near the top of the salary cap and Nylander unhappy with his role, they loaned the Swede to the Detroit Red Wings organization in 2009-10 (who then assigned him to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL) and then to the Florida Panthers during the last year of his contract in 2010-11 (who later assigned him to Rochester). Nylander, who broke his neck 7 games into his stint with the Americans, then continued his career in Europe the next season in the Swiss National League A.
Since then, the 40-year-old Nylander has returned to his native home of Sweden to finish his career in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan. And for a good reason.
In the nine games since he returned from the World Junior Championship, Forsberg has four goals and eleven points. He also has 30 points in 31 games, which ranks him as one of the best in the league in points per game. Forsberg, one of the youngest players in the league, would also be among the league leaders in points if he hadn’t missed time due to injury and captaining Sweden’s WJC team.
Take a look at some Youtube highlights from a few recent games and imagine what the Caps will look like in two years or so — which, coincidentally, is about the time they’ll win their next game.
Wednesday night against BIK Karlskoga (Marcus Johansson’s former lockout team), Caps first-round pick Filip Forsberg failed to score a goal in Leksands IF’s 5-4 comeback win. The 18-year-old Swede did however tally two assists, the first of which is so incredible, you will replay the below video 5 to 10 times trying to figure out how the h-e-double hockey sticks the perfectly placed tape-to-tape backhand pass got through so many players.
This may be pass of the year in the HockeyAllsvenskan.
Heading into the gold-medal game of the 2013 World Junior Championships, the Swedes were confident they could repeat as champions. They had just beaten the host country, Team Russia, 3-2 in a shootout. They had gone undefeated in the World Junior Championships, winning their first 5 games with a goal differential of 22-10.
Riley Barber is in the second row, directly to the left of the cup. (Photo credit: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Washington Capitals prospect Riley Barber and Team USA upset Filip Forsberg and Christian Djoos of the defending champion Team Sweden 3-1 on Saturday to win the 2013 World Junior Championships. This is the first time that the USA has won the tournament since 2010, when some guy named John Carlson scored in sudden-death overtime.
Team USA was led in the title game by John Gibson, named best goalie of the tournament with a .955 save percentage, and Rocco Grimaldi, who scored two goals. Former Caps defenseman Phil Housley, in his first year coaching Team USA, was the victorious head coach. Assistant Grant Potulny, who scored 19 goals in 50 games during the 2007-08 season for the Hershey Bears, also won gold as an assistant coach.
Washington Capitals first-round pick Filip Forsberg isn’t known as a fancy stick-handler, but before Thursday’s semi-finals game between Sweden and Russia, Filip let some tricks out of the bag. Watch at center ice as Filip puts the puck– and his stick— through his legs, in one smooth motion. You can’t even do that in NHL13.
If I tried that move, I would impale myself in an area not fit for publish in a family blog. In five years, I bet we’re all going to look back at the 2012 draft and smile at the star player our team got out of it.