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European Prospect Review: NCAA aspirations are a hindrance to the SHL

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NCAA eligibility is a factor in their professional aspirations

Tommy Holl

Wednesday night, news broke that Frölunda had suspended junior players after they had declined to participate in the team’s SHL games. They refused to play because it could jeopardize their future chances to join the NCAA. Johan Rylander from the Gothenburg Post posted the full story in regards to the players and their NCAA eligibility.

The whole story started a few weeks back when Frölunda found themselves in injury trouble, which was compounded by Jacob Larsson playing for the Anaheim Ducks. Coach Roger Rönnberg naturally turned to his junior team for support, something that has definitely worked wonders before with Larsson, Filip Westerlund (2017 draft) and future NHL star Rasmus Dahlin (2018 draft) who all have played with the senior team from an early age.

This time around three players declined; Calle Ehrnberg, Arvid Aronsson and Jacob Olbing. A fourth player, Jacob Nordqvist, asked to speak with his agent before making a decision. Frölunda couldn’t wait and eventually called up Markus Christensson, who made his debut in SHL.

As you would expect, Frölunda reacted to the decision. Aronsson has not been allowed to practice with any team, but he is still enrolled in the Frölunda academy as well as the high school of hockey in Gothenburg. Ehrnberg has been cut from the U20 team and can only practice with the U18 team, while Olbing and Nordqvist still play with the U20 team.

Coach Rönnberg looks at a wider problem. "The rules for college states that you can’t have participated in professional sports, college is for amateurs so in regards to that you can’t even participate in practices with the A-team, and most definitely not participate in either SHL or CHL if you hope to play in the NCAA. This creates a huge problem for us. Let’s say we get a stomach flu and need three defenders, the six defenders on the U20 team should be the ones that fight for those spots. They know our style of play, they are part of the team so I know they are ready for it just like Dahlin, Westerlund, Nyberg and Larsson were, they have all taken that path."

Rönnberg continues; "it becomes a weird situation for us, we have players that are there to play a game and then they say they can’t play. We have to be better in our communication; if you play in our development teams you are there to prepare for your time with the A-team".

Rönnberg also looks to Frölunda’s position as the top club for developing talent in Sweden "We have 67 development spots, many young players in Sweden wants to have one of those spots... therefore we can’t have three or four defenders that don’t want to play in our A-team, we have to look at the organization first".

It is easy to see the frustration in the club, but also to understand the players that have a shot at a paid education which could help them in a future outside hockey, and they don’t want to jeopardize that chance. It may become something for the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and NCAA to work out in the future.


Prospect Report

After the international break, all of Montreal’s European prospects were back on the ice:

Joonas Nättinen, JYP, Liiga

The Finnish centre had an assist, but the team still lost both games played a a 1-3 loss to TPS and 4-2 loss to Kalpa, both at home in Jyväskylä.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården, SHL

Djurgården started their campaign after the break with a win over Frölunda, and Vejdemo had an assist on the game winning goal for Djurgården. You can see Vejdemo on top of the crease getting the puck out to Tambellini for the goal.

Vejdemo was in the box when Brynäs extended their lead from 1-0 to 2-0 and effectively closed the game on Saturday. Djurgården came back to win a tough game against Skellefteå, Tuesday night, but Vejdemo was held off the score sheet.

Arvid Henrikson, AIK U-20, SuperElit

The big defender was with AIK U20 and had quite a game against Västerås this weekend. One assist, two minors, and a +2 rating in a 5-1 trashing of the home team. He was -1 in the next game against Brynäs in a 4-1 win over AIK. While AIK is at the bottom of the standings and hemorrhaging scoring chances, Henrikson is not on the ice for many goals against.

Magnus Nygren, Färjestad, SHL

It was not a big week for Nygren, even if Färjestad managed an overtime win and a shootout win, before falling 3-1 to HV71.

I can’t finish a report without posting this ridiculous pass by 16-year-old Rasmus Dahiln. Yes the hype is real.