FABULOUS OR NOT??
Depending on who you talk to.
I’ve decided to write something about the “most sought-after non-NHL player of the world” – Fabian Brunnstrom. I remember the last time a player was called this, his name was Evgeni Malkin. But what about this time? Is Brunnstrom the next Malkin??
Brunnstrom has been arguably to most talked-about player with the least known information of. Type his name in youtube, and you can only find the same blurry video of his goal against Luleå in the Swedish Elite League. Little is known of his true abilities, and very few has seen him play. He hasn’t won any significant awards in his career, nor has he represented his country in the national level. In fact, he was rejected by the Swedish National Team playing for the World Championship in Halifax and Quebec City. Swedish National Team GM Mats Naslund reportedly said “…he had a great start to the season and until Christmas he was playing like a national team player…But since Christmas he has not progressed good enough for us.” Naslund continued by saying he’s seen him play a lot, and don’t understand what the hype is all about, and that “…he has a little more to prove.”
Players of his calibre on paper comes in dozens even in the Swedish Elite League, yet, he’s been the talk for the past few months in forums and newsites across the world. He’s been wooed by more than 20 NHL teams in the past few months, including the likes of Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Dallas. He’s been called the next Daniel Alfredsson, mainly due to him being overlooked in last year’s draft.
But let’s take a look at his stats:
9 goals and 28 assists in 54 games in the Swedish Elite League.
Hardly a potential superstar worth fighting over by 20 GMs in the NHL. Of course you can’t really judge a player simply by their stats so early in their career, I mean Daniel Alfredsson had 7 goals and 11 assists in 22 goals prior to coming to the NHL. Henrik Zetterberg has 10 goals 22 assists in 48 games in the Swedisn Elite League. On the other hand, everyone knows that Alexandre Daigle had 45 goals 92 assists in 53 games in the QMJHL, and look how he turned out!!
But it is rather strange when we consider the amount of hype he’s been getting lately. Is he really that good?? Apparently he isn’t too sure about that himself, as in one the earliest interview he has with TSN at a playoff game, he himself questioned whether he is ready for the NHL. He told reporters that “he isn’t Sidney Crosby”, no kidding. Can this hype be purely the results of marketing efforts by his agent J.P. Barry?
Up until the firing of Canucks’ GM Dave Nonis, numerous reports indicated that Brunnstrom are 99% close to signing with Vancouver. But right after Nonis’ departure, Brunnstrom’s camp immediately replies that they will most likely pull out from the deal. Initially, they suggested that the main reasons for Brunnstrom signing in Vancouver were (1) the chance to play with fellow countrymen Sedin brothers, (2) less jam-packed forward line-up which means he gets more ice-time and (3) his confidence with Nonis. Considering 2 of the 3 reasons he believed to be crucial remains the same, why the sudden change of heart for young Brunnstrom?
Some suggests that Nonis was offering Brunnstrom a guarantee to play with the Sedins, and his position in the big club for the entire year. This may be partly true, because GM of teams which were rejected by Brunnstrom reveals that Brunnstrom wishes to remain in the NHL for the entire year, unconditionally. Since Nonis was gone, it was suggested that the Canucks management quickly remove the offer, due to their questioning of his abilities. It’s very understandable that a player wishes to spend as much time possible in the big league, but to go to the extent in this re-assurance does show a lack of confidence on his part.
Yet, other suggests that Brunnstrom wished to pull away from the deal anyways, they just needed a good reason for doing so. Brunnstrom’s value was gradually increasing since the media took over, and reports of him signing with the Canucks prompted other GM to place offers for the Swedes’ services. Camp Brunnstrom wanted to test the market for a bit longer, but they made committments with the Canucks, so the firing of Nonis was the best excuse for backing off the deal.
I personally believe that it’s a combination of the two above reasons which led to Brunnstrom walking away from Canucks’ offer. This also explains why the Aquilini’s (Owners of Canucks), proceeded with firing Dave Nonis on the eve of signing Brunnstrom. First, they were never really convinced of Brunnstrom’s abilities, and Nonis’ offer may have further provoked the owners into the firing him from the GM position. Secondly, they were close to bringing in Mike Gillis to replace Dave Nonis, for various reasons which I will not go into details here. Knowing that Brunnstrom is re-considering his allegiance to the Canucks, they strike the first move, and remove themselves from the bidding.
Despite what the reasons were for not being able to sign Brunnstrom, the Canucks would have been a good fit for him, with the Sedins always looking for a talented winger, and a rather weak forward line-up. It wouldn’t have been too difficult for Brunnstrom to crack the line-up if he is what his agent suggests to be. In any case, Brunnstrom is now the property of the Dallas Stars, but many, including this blogger, remains skeptical of his skills, as he now has an even harder challenge ahead of him, with all the expectations which came with the hype.
Signing out, this is Saint Pako from the Hockey Digest.