SHL Hockey - the best players of 2017/8 - part 3

SHL Hockey - the best players of 2017/8 - part 3

16 May 2018Adrian J»
 

The mid-table group of teams did not make the cut when it came to the playoffs, quickly being eliminated by their rivals. But whilst the collective team could not make the grade, individuals in all the teams can be singled out as providing the extra edge that others didn't have. This is part 3 in a series of articles to keep you in touch with what's happened here in Sweden over the last 9 months.

 
 
 
 

7. Luleå HF

The team set their sights high when they appointed former Brynäs' manager Thomas Berglund at the beginning of the season. The previous year, the former Luleå player and manager had taken Brynäs to an unlikely final where they only lost in overtime in the seventh game of the series. So it was a disappointing season for the team from Norrbotten who were swept aside by none other than Brynäs in the playoff qualifier.

The men's team had less import players than most of the others team in the SHL. But one of them, Canadian Brendan Mikkelsson, would have an unexpected impact. The 30 year old defenseman just happens to be sister to Canadian Silver medalist, Meaghan Mikkelsson. The 33 year old defender made the decision to join the women's team after the Olympics along with fellow Canadian, Jennifer Wakefield. 13 games and 8 points later Mikkelsson was able to add the Swedish championship to her Olympic medal to make a memorable year for the Canadian as Luleå women succeeded where the men had failed.

8. HV71

Last year's champions struggled to make an impact, but with many players leaving as a result of their success the result was not really a surprise.

Nonetheless, it was still a breakout season for defenseman, Lawerence Pilut. The 22 years old Swede was awarded an Assistant Captain role at the club where he has played since a junior. But more importantly, he finished off the season as the top scoring defenseman in the league and earned his first caps in the national team as a Senior, including being one of the few SHL players in the squad at the World Championship in Denmark.

9. Linköping HC

The club have always been a team that has relied on it's North American forwards for success and this year was no exception. With the NHL refusing to release it's players for the Winter Games, last summer saw a mad scramble as European clubs tried to entice players who might be willing to play in the continent to make themselves eligible for the Olympics. At the same time, players already in Europe had a chance for Olympic glory that otherwise would have been out if their reach.

So Canada's assistant captains, both with over 720 games of NHL experience, played in SHL this season. 36 year old René Bourque for Djurgården IF and 35 year old, Derek Roy, played for Linköping HC. Roy, unlike Bourque, was in his fourth season outside North America and did not disappoint expectations, topped the team in Total Points. No only that, but he also got to pick up an Olympic Bronze too.

So did Bourque, of course, but in his only season in Europe he did not play any playoff matches at all, including Djurgården's defeat of Linköping in the quarterfinals. That was because of his son's illness leading to his decision to retire from the game at the end of this season.

10. Brynäs IF

After an unexpected final appearance last year, the team had a dreadful start to the year which culminated in the newly appointed manager, Roger Melin being fired. The club also suffered multiple injuries to key players, not least, former Stanley Cup winner, Daniel Paille. The 34 year old Canadian could well have played in the Olympics if he had not suffered a season-ending, and probably career-ending, concussion in the final minutes of a CHL match.

The team, however, recovered brilliantly under new manager, Tommy Sjödin, and a new import star was born in 28 year old American, Aaron Palushaj. The former NHL, AHL and KHL forward, finished seventh in Total Points and will be able to sign with any club in Europe he feels like after an outstanding performance this season with 45 points, including 19 goals.


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