Photo Credit: Saga Westin, Courtesy Skelleftea AIK

The looming Swedish invasion

In drafting and player development, things tend to come in waves. Draft classes tend to cluster in specific leagues due to developmental cycles, which in turn leads to several players from the same league hitting the pros at the same time. The Calgary Flames have rode a few specific developmental and acquisition waves over the past few seasons, but they have a potential invasion of Swedes looming in 2020-21.

Previous waves

The 2018-19 season saw a pretty significant wave of Western Hockey League graduates going pro. Dillon Dube, Juuso Valimaki, Glenn Gawdin, Matthew Phillips and Nick Schneider all jumped into the pro ranks. Dube and Valimaki made it directly to the NHL initially before spending the second half of their seasons with the Stockton Heat. Gawdin and Phillips were in the AHL all season, while Schneider bounced between the AHL and ECHL.

This coming season, a pair of Russians are joining the Flames organization in goalie Artyom Zagidulin and defender Alexander Yelesin. They’ll both likely begin the season in Stockton – alongside Russian defender Rinav Valiev – but Yelesin may have a path to the NHL due to the club’s lack of right shot depth.

The Swedish invasion

The WHL wave was a product of the Flames intensely scouting the circuit. The Russian influx was due to some KHL contracts coming up at the same time and the Flames utilizing Hakan Loob and Derek MacKinnon to get a scouting foothold in the region.

But because of drafting, some signings and some timing, potentially four Swedes could make the jump to North America all at once:

  • Carl-Johan Lerby will be in the second season of his entry-level deal – he’s going to spend 2019-20 with Malmo of the SHL. He’s under contract and definitely coming over.
  • 2016 pick Linus Lindstrom, whose rights will lapse unless the Flames sign him by June 1, 2020. He’s played three full seasons in the SHL and his contract with Skelleftea AIK will expire after 2019-20.
  • 2017 pick Filip Sveningsson, who led the secondary HockeyAllsvenskan league in under-20 scoring in 2018-19 as he helped his team get promoted to the SHL. Like Lindstrom, his SHL deal expires after 2019-20.
  • The least likely player to come over due to his age and relative inexperience, 2019 pick Lucas Feuk is entering the last year of his current contract with Sodertalje SK. He’s pushing for a full-time SHL gig this season, so the potential exists that his contract gets extended.

The Flames have a great reputation with Swedish players, likely a product of Loob’s prominence in the organization and the success that Swedes like Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson have had in recent years.

The WHL and Russia have sent the Flames a slew of players in recent seasons, but expect an influx of fresh-faced Swedes to arrive in 2020-21.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Off topic, Neil has said he expects to play on McDavids line! McDavid would be entering the offensive zone while Neil is struggling to get to centre ice.

    • Craftmatic4.0

      All the cOiler fans are laughing at me! They think we got robbed and Neil will return to form! If Neil could not score on last years killer team, he is not going to do anything on a garbage team! Either way, lots of trash talk coming up, this season!

      • HarveysFleaCollar

        Really..no one knows how Nealnor Lucic are going to pan out with the change of scenery. You guys sound like little, self entitled pukes. Both sides. Let the players play of the upcoming season be the judge. As far as I can remember, it’s been some of the same FN members that were making fun of Lucic and his contract just a month ago..now these same members bashing Neal. It’s getting old..give the dead horse a break from the beating..

        • Seabass

          100% agree HFC! I hate seeing their trolls on this site, but am interested in whats going on around the league so I obviously read articles on their site and we have the same amount of trolls there. I personally think both players will be put in better positions to succeed next year and the Battle of Alberta (on the ice) will heat up as much as it is off the ice. both players had bad years last year and I’m hoping and truly believe both will do better in their new roles this year. So forgeting about them for a moment, Here’s the advantages for the Flames. The entire team feels tougher with Lucic out there and Hamonic doesn’t get hurt having to fight out of his weight class. Calgary saves 500k in cap space. More physical play in a bottom 6 role player. Expect at least the same type of production and possibly more from that same roster spot from last year. Fantastic!

        • Luter 1

          Just saying……Neal of last year would need a rocket tied to his arse to play with McDavid, so everyone can give it up with him playing the wing on the number one line.

    • Rockmorton65

      But then what happens to Chaisson? He doesn’t score 20 away from McDavid. I think whoever is on that line gets around 20. The other guy, not so much.

    • Albertabeef

      This is not the topic you should go off topic with. Really I have no clue who this Neil guy is, but if he’s like Neal I’d rather the subject was never spoken of again. Sick of these complaints about Neal. He’s no longer part of our team and I wish people would just let it go. It seems like people have dragged him into every single thread and refuse to let the subject die.

  • Seabass

    21 points for a 21 year old D in the SHL is nice production. After aonther year of seasoning in the top Swedish league, that will be nice to add to the Heat back end next year. I liked what i saw out of Lindstrom in a shut down role at the World Juniors in 18. Hopefully he can add a little bit of offence. Sveningsson didn’t do much to impress me at the 19 World Juniors in Vancouver, but a 7th rounder in his D+1 year at the WJC usually doesn’t. He had decent numbers as a 19 year old in Swedens 2nd Pro league this past year with 15 goals in 43 games. Hopefully those numbers can translate to the SHL this year.

  • PlayitagainSam

    Craftmatic… Lucic problem the last three years is that he is not consistent and can’t put in solid work every night. Mark my words he will be a big disappointment then throw a big hit once every 5 games.
    That won’t be enough to keep you happy. People in Edmonton wanted him to succeed and were on his side the whole time but he just can’t do it in today’s game any longer.

    • Getpucksdeep

      No people in Edmonton crowed about a big name signing that was going to be a top 6 goal scorer. Thats not a “chance” …thats pressure. Calgary knows he doesn’t score as much, Calgary has offense and depth and all we want is the 250 hits he’ll throw. If Neal doesn’t score he brings nothing else. He may score but don’t be fooled if he plays with McDavid. If he can’t score playing with RNH then the Oilers loose. Calgary has zero expectations for Lucic other than some physical play.

      • PlayitagainSam

        NO they don’t lose. They win they just buy him out, but you’re stuck with him. Did you think that was a good contract at 6 million and 6 goals last year. How about 5.25 ml and less than 5 this year but 200 hits . Money well spent? Thank you Treleving for taking on the worst contract in the league. All of his hits are faint rub outs along the boards because he can’t skate to get there on time.

        • Seabass

          Actually, I have to correct you there. If they both suck this year and Edmonton ends up buying Neal out next year, but Calgary keeps Lucic, then Calagary will pay Lucic 5.25 for 4 years or 21 million total. Edmonton will pay the 4 years of the 750 k retained (3 million), the 5.75 million from Neal this year, the 1.92 million for 6 years (11.52 million) then you are already at 20.27 million. However, Edmonton would still have to fill that 23rd roster postion for the 3 more years that Calgary has Lucic on the books and even for a scrub replacement which is making the league minimum of 700k per year, that is 2.1 million. So the total Edmonton would have to pay against the cap would be 22.37 million which is 1.37 million more than Calgary not even buying out Lucic. Calgary could sit him in the pressbox if worst comes to worst with Edmonton buying out Neal after this year and Calgary still saves against the cap in total.

          However, saying all that, i don’t believe this will happen for either team. I think Lucic adds that dimension we’ve been missing even if overpriced and Neal does enough to not get bought out, again, even if overpriced.

    • HOCKEY83

      It must have been somewhat tough for Looch with AHL linemates on an AHL quality team like Edmonton has. You gotta feel sad for McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge working hard every night knowing they are the team’s only hope with no help now or in the near future for them. Bet they can’t all wait to get away from that franchise.

        • HOCKEY83

          Gaudreau being gone when his salary was up doesn’t take a moronic Edmonton troll to reveal that information. Tell me something I don’t know. Drai and McD signed 8 year deals to their dismay. Now they have to suffer in Edmonton for the peak years of their careers. Sad sad sad. Just a sad fate for one of the league best all time players

  • SouthernFlame

    I think Lucic will fill Hathaways spot nicely. I have a really good feeling about our 4th line next year. Yes he is an overpaid 4th liner but so was Neal.

  • Albertabeef

    Strange fact- if the playoffs were determined by the trade deadline on, the Flames, Jets, and Sharks would not have made the playoffs. In the East only Toronto would not have made the playoffs. In that span, Toronto and Calgary were tied for 18th place in the NHL, despite the fact the Flames had the NHL’s 6th best goals for and against record. Also the Flames after the TDL had a league’s 30 place power play percentage.
    Just to be fair from Dec 1st to Jan 31st the top 3 teams in the NHL were
    TB 39 points
    Cal 39 points
    Win 38 points
    Flames went on a run of 18W-4L-3OT/SO over that two month period.

    • Albertabeef

      By the way Johnny had an amazing 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points in 25 games during that Dec-Jan run. That was tied for first with Kucherov in that span. That pace of scoring over an 82 game span that would net a player 144 points. That would break Kent Nilsson’s Franchise record for points in a season.