SHL Hockey - the best players of 2017/8 - part 4

SHL Hockey - the best players of 2017/8 - part 4

16 May 2018Adrian J»
 

The bottom of the table scramble is a hockey drama all of it's own. It doesn't always grab the same headlines as the fight for the winner's podium. But these teams also throw up their own heroes as the bottom four teams fought it out to stay in the commercially lucrative, SHL for the 2018/9 season. This is the last article in a series of four on the SHL season 2017/8.

 
 
 
 

11. Rögle BK

27 year old centre Ted Brithén chose to return to his youth team in the year they, for the first time in the club's history, had played two seasons in a row in the top division. Having won the SHL with HV71 the year before, the undrafted Swede may have regretted his decision at New Year when the club lay at the bottom of the league having struggled all autumn. The chance of them escaping the relegation playoff seemed remote.

But something happened to the club from Ängelholm in 2018.

They decided to start winning games and Brithén put in some of the best stats of his career taking 31 points, including 10 goals. He led the internal points competition and he was closely followed by two import players with a great deal of experience in the AHL - American, Bryan Lerg (412 games) and Canadian, Craig Schira (208 games for the Binghamton Senators). Together the team finished an impressive 11th having fought their way from the brink of the abyss.

12. Örebro HK

Credit at Örebro should probably go to the managerial staff and team scouts for the selection of four players who came in to save Örebro's season from disaster. After 10 losses in a row in 2018 the team were sinking into the bottom two relegation playoff positions. But when forwards Anton Hedman (10 Matches) from Sweden and Canadian Jeremy Williams (7 matches), as well as American defenseman Nick Ebert (8 matches) and Finnish back Ari Gröndahl (7 Matches) arrived, they together answered for 16 important points as well as all having plus figures in the Plus/Minus column. So, the team from Närke was able to turn things around to set up an impressive sixth year in a row in the SHL for the city where football has historically been the main sport.

13. Mora IK

The club brought in over 1300 games of AHL experience in seven new players for the 2017-8 season with just one aim in mind - to ensure that the club stayed in the top division after promotion the year before. They still ended up in the scary relegation playoff where they saw off local rivals, Leksand IF, their goal was achieved.

Signing of the season may not have been an former AHL player, but instead their top scorer Czech forward, David Kaše. The 21 year old player was playing in the second division in his home country even though he was drafted in 2015 by the Philadelphia Flyers and despite having played for the national team at the last three Junior World Championships.

But it was not just down to import players, but also home grown talent that ensured the team's survival. For example, 29 year old keeper, Christian Engstrand. In this, his second season at the club, the Swede posted a .913 Save Percentage, better than six other first choice netminders in the division, and crucially produced three shutouts in their 4-1 relegation playoff series victory.

14. Karlskrona HK

In a season where the team ended the regular season with a goal difference of -75, then were relegated in playoff series where they led at one point 3-1 in games, it is not easy to find a glimmer of hope.

But perhaps 23 year old Swedish centre Joel Kellman can help.

Originally from the town on the south coast he returned to Karlskrona in 2014 whilst they were in Hockey Allsvenskan and then remained with the club when they got promotion to the SHL.

The 2017-8 season saw him return to being the top scorer in the club as he had been in their promotion year in 2015-6. Both this year and last he lead the club in goal scoring with 15.

His commitment to his hometown club means that he already is in the top 5 of Total Points as well as Games Played in the club's short history. But whilst Karlskrona were unable to secure their position in the top division, Kellman's quality means he will being playing SHL hockey in 2018-9, but with Brynäs IF.


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