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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 7:01 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Saint John awaits parade; Cup award winners

Before players of the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs begin thinking of NHL Scouting Combine this week in Toronto, there's one other matter they'll have to consider -- a parade.

The city will welcome the Sea Dogs back following their 3-1 victory over Mississauga in the Memorial Cup final with a homecoming parade on Tuesday at noon to celebrate the remarkable 2010-11 season. The Sea Dogs won their first Rivalry Cup over the Moncton Wildcats and the Jean Rougeau Trophy as regular season champions in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a league-record 58 wins. They then capped it off with the team's first ever President's Cup as playoff champs, and a historic victory at the Memorial Cup.

If that isn't deserving of a celebration, what is?

The parade will start at King Square and travel down King Street to a rally at the Market Square boardwalk (rain location, Market Square Atrium) at approximately 12:20 p.m. Saint John fans are being encouraged to come out in blue and white Sea Dogs colors in support of their team, which could see as many as nine players selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June.

The Sea Dogs became the first team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup since its inception in 1919. The roster includes six players born in New Brunswick, three in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island -- coach Gerard Gallant and GM Mike Kelly are also from PEI.

Saint John also becomes the first team from the QMJHL to win a Memorial Cup not hosted by one of the league's teams since 1996 -- when the Granby Predateurs scored a 4-0 victory over the OHL's Peterborough Petes.

Saint John forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 3 goals and 6 points in four games, was named the tournament's most valuable player and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was placed on the tournament all-star team. Here are the Memorial Cup award winners, announced by the CHL on Sunday.

Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player)Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs finished tied for second in tournament scoring with six points in four games including three goals and three assists.  The 18-year-old from St-Jerome, Quebec, scored a goal and an assist in the 3-1 Championship Final victory over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.  Eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Huberdeau is the third ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting and is the first Quebec-born player to win the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy since Danny Groulx of the Victoriaville Tigres in 2002.

Ed Chynoweth Trophy (Top Scorer)Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack

Andrew Shaw of the Owen Sound Attack led the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup in scoring with seven points in four games scoring two goals and five assists.  A 19-year-old from Belleville, ON, Shaw recorded a point in all four games and produced three multi-point games completing his third OHL season.
George Parsons Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)Marc Cantin, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors

Marc Cantin of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors had two assists in five games and was the only defenceman on the Majors that did not record any penalty minutes.  A 21-year-old from Omemee, ON, the Boston Bruins prospect concludes a five-year OHL career with three appearances in the MasterCard Memorial Cup including a Championship title last season with the Windsor Spitfires.

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Outstanding Goaltender)Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack

Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack had three starts in the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup posting a 1-2 record with a tournament-best goals-against-average of 1.42 and save percentage of .951.  The 17-year-old from Richmond Hill, ON, posted the only shutout of the tournament with 29 saves as part of a 5-0 win over the Kootenay Ice.  He is eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and is the third ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting.  

Huberdeau and Shaw were also recognized on the tournament All-Star team at forward along with Devante Smith-Pelly of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. Smith-Pelly, a prospect of the Anaheim Ducks, had 3 goals and 6 points in five games. A pair of 2011 NHL Entry Draft prospects were named to the tournament All-Star team on defense -- No. 5 Beaulieu (3 points in 4 games) and No. 53 Stuart Percy (4 assists in 5 games) of Mississauga. Binnington was named to the All-Star team in goal.  

2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup Awards:

Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player) – Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Ed Chynoweth Trophy (Top Scorer) – Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack

George Parsons Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player) – Marc Cantin, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Outstanding Goaltender) – Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack

2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup All-Stars:

Goaltender – Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack
Defence – Stuart Percy, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Defence – Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs
Forward – Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack
Forward – Devante Smith-Pelly, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Forward – Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 8:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Memorial Cup in-game blog

Third Period

The Majors pulled their goalie but Saint John's defense held fort in recording a 3-1 victory to capture its first Memorial Cup championship. As a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings a year ago, the Windsor Spitfires scorched Jacod DeSerres, the 21-year-old goalie, in a 9-1 thumping in the Memorial Cup final. When the Wheat Kings went with younger netminders this season, DeSerres cleared WHL waivers, leaving him free to sign with the Sea Dogs. Deserres stopped 34 pucks en route to the biggest win of his career.

The Sea Dogs’ roster has six players born in New Brunswick, three in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. With the triumph, Saint John becomes the first team from the QMJHL to win a Memorial Cup not hosted by one of the league's teams since 1996 -- when the Granby Predateurs scored a 4-0 victory over the OHL's Peterborough Petes. If that weren't enough, Saint John also happened to be the youngest team in this year's Memorial Cup tournament.

3:43: There it is. The QMJHL MVP Jonathan Huberdeau with a great move off an even better feed from linemate Zack Phillips to give the Sea Dogs a 3-1 advantage. It is Huberdeau's third goal of the Memorial Cup tournament in 4 games. Phillips made the play happen when he skated hard down right wing before threading a pass to Huberdeau storming down the slot. Phillips' pass just went underneath a diving Mississauga defenseman Michael D'Orazio before hitting Huberdeau's tape. The No. 3-rated North American prospect then finished it off with a nifty deke in front of J.P. Anderson that sent the goalie on his chest and out of position. Phillips is rated No. 15 on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters.

4:51: Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres appears so poised out there. Mississauga creating plenty of opportunities around his crease, but DeSerres refuses to budge.

8:29: So Mississauga is now 0-for-5 on the power-play while Saint John remains clinging to a 2-1 lead here in the Memorial Cup final. The Sea Dogs hold a 4-3 edge in shots in the third and the Majors hold a 27-21 lead for the game. Neal Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' playing in the backround.

Both teams are currently waiting to cash in on a mistake - is it a matter of time? Tomas "the magician" Jurco just had a splendid opportunity off a wrist shot from between the circles that Mississauga goalie J.P. Anderson scooped up to force a defensive-zone draw. The Sea Dogs have opened up the third period in relatively strong fashion, outshooting the Majors, 3-0.

Second Period

:01: In a period dominated by Mississauga, the home team outshot Saint John, 15-6, and now holds a 24-17 edge for the game. Majors captain Casey Cizikas almost pulled his team even with one tick on the clock when he collected a feed from the left-wing corner and tried a stuffer at the left post on goalie Jacob DeSerres. DeSerres, who has played extremely well throughout, has turned back 23 shots for the game. The power-play for both teams has struggled. Each team is 0-for-4 with the man advantage.

5:19: Mississauga has cut into the Saint John lead off a splendid 3-on-2 rush. New York Islanders prospect Casey Cizikas (92nd overall in 2009) began the play by skating up the middle of the ice before feeding Justin Shugg in the right circle. Shugg placed a perfectly timed lead-pass to Riley Brace low in the left circle. Brace, who missed on an opportunity very late in the first period, then ripped a shot past Jacob DeSerres, who had no chance on the play. 

8:46: Mississauga was just presented its second power-play opportunity of the period when Michael Kirkpatrick was sent to the box for slashing. Saint John successful denies the Majors to maintain a two-goal lead.

17:00: The host team was given an early power-play to open the second after Saint John's Kevin Gagne was whistled for tripping just 55 seconds into the frame. While Mississauga did have some decent looks, Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres was up to the challenge each time. Mississauga has outshot Saint John, 4-1, in the second and DeSerres has been equal to the task. The Saint John defense, led by standout draft eligible Nathan Beaulieu, has also played well in front of their keeper.

First Period

15.6: Mississauga's Riley Brace thought he had poked one underneath the pads of Saint John goalie Jacob DeSerres, but the referee whistled the play dead before the puck apparently crossed the line. Brace raised his arms in celebration but there was a whistle just prior to the disk squeaking through the pads. The first period ends with Saint John holding a precarious 2-0 lead while outshooting Mississauga, 11-9.

6:43: Zack Phillips, the third of four possible first-round selections playing for Saint John this season, struck for his 10th goal of the playoffs just as a roughing penalty to Mississauga's Joe Cramarossa expired. Phillips was aided by the quick passing of top draft-eligible Sea Dog Jonathan Huberdeau and Michael Kirkpatrick. The Sea Dogs took advantage of a turnover in the Mississauga end by forward Chris DeSousa. Mississauga has already been called for three minor penalties in the opening period -- wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall listening to St. Michael's coach Dave Cameron between periods in the locker room?

17:36: It didn't matter that Sea Dogs forward Ryan Tesink was whistled for roughing in the opening five minutes of the game. Simon Despres, a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins (30th overall) in 2009, ripped a shot from the left circle that beat St. Michael's goalie J.P. Anderson over his blocker to the long side. On Despres' short-handed goal, the 2011 World Junior Championship silver medalist used Mississauga defender Stuart Percy as a screen.

20:00: Prior to the game, a tremendous salute to many service men and women here at the Hershey Centre. Additionally, a fantastic video tribute to the late EJ McGuire, who died of cancer on April 7. McGuire, the longtime executive director of NHL Central Scouting, will certainly be missed this week with the NHL Scouting Combine being held in Toronto. McGuire's wife, Terry, and his two daughters, Erin and Jacqueline, were given a very nice applause as they made their way to center ice on the red carper during pre-game festivities.

Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 6:52 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Starting line combinations for Memorial Cup final

The line combinations have been submitted by the coaching staffs of Saint John and Mississauga here at the Hershey Centre for the anticipated Memorial Cup finale.

Saint John Sea Dogs

Alexandre Beauregard-Stephen MacAulay-Mike Thomas
Jonathan Huberdeau-Zack Phillips-Stanislav Galiev
Tomas Jurco-Michael Kirkpatrick-Ryan Tesink
Scott Oke-Danick Gauthier-Steven Anthony

Simon Despres-Aidan Kelly
Nathan Beaulieu-Kevin Gagne
Eric Gelinas-Gabriel Bourret

Goalie - Jacob DeSerres

Mississauga St. Michael's Majors

Justin Shugg-Casey Cizikas-Devante Smith-Pelly
Chris DeSousa-Rob Flick-Riley Brace
Joseph Cramarossa-Jordan Mayer-Maxim Kitsyn
Jamie Wise-Corey Bureau-Mika Partanen

Stuart Percy-Brett Flemming
Marc Cantin-Dylan DeMeio
David Corrente-Michael D'Orazio

Goalie - J.P. Anderson

Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 6:23 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Majors, Sea Dogs ready for puck drop

The stage is set here at Hershey Centre for MasterCard Memorial Cup championship between the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors and the Saint John Sea Dogs. The fans are filing in to the arena and all are expecting a classic showdown between the top two teams in the Canadian Hockey League.
For Mississauga coach Dave Cameron, it's a shot at finally sealing the deal in a final-round game this season. If you'll recall, the 52-year-old coach dropped a 5-3 decision to Team Russia in the gold medal game as the bench boss for the Canadian Junior National Team in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., in January. He then lost 4 of the last 5 games against Owen Sound to drop a seven-game  series to Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League championship.
Meanwhile, Saint John coach Gerard Gallant, whose team is 12-1 on the road during the playoffs, is seeking his first Memorial Cup. As a player, Gallant lost a shot at a CHL title as a member of the Sherbrooke Castors in 1982 and the Verdun Juniors in 1983.
While much talk has been made of the coaches, there's also an interesting twist involving both goalies. Jacob DeSerres of Saint John is looking to rebound in this year's final game after allowing all nine goals as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 9-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires in 2010. Mississauga's J.P. Anderson would likely be in the running for tournament MVP with a victory over the offensively-charged Sea Dogs. Anderson, who has allowed just one goal in each of the past three games, sports a sparkling 1.76 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 9:08 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the NHL Combine

Get prepared for the NHL Scouting Combine

As the preparation stages begin for the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, here's a look at some of the intriguing stories you may want to check out prior to's wall-to-wall coverage of the six-day event at the Westin Bristol Place and the Toronto Congress Center.

* Just because Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll have the highest average power output of any other player on the board upon completion of the anaerobic fitness exam. The proof will be in the pudding, as the old adage goes, when Nugent-Hopkins is among the top 102 draft-eligible players from North American and Europe to undergo rigorous testing and medical examinations at the NHL Scouting Combine from May 30 to June 4 in Toronto. Mike Morreale has the story.

* Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the top North American for the 2011 Entry Draft as determined by NHL Central Scouting. The Canadian Hockey League agreed with that decision Saturday, naming him as junior hockey's top draft prospect. Nugent-Hopkins, who led the Western Hockey league with 75 assists and tied for third with 106 points, beat out Kitchener Rangers left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier. Bill Hoppe has all the details.

* Northeastern University defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak, the tallest draft-eligible player on the board for the 2011 Entry Draft at 6-foot-7, 244-pounds, was making the most of his time in the Boston area prior to heading out to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto. Oleksiak informed that in addition to taking extra classes, he's hard at work preparing for the rigorous fitness testing he'll undergo at the Toronto Congress Center beginning June 3. Mike Morreale tells us how.

* The Scouting Combine gives NHL clubs a chance to evaluate those future stars of the League less than a month before the 2011 Entry Draft. The top 102 players as rated by NHL Central Scouting in April, including North American and European skaters and goaltenders, have been invited to participate in various team interviews and medical and physical tests. Unlike previous seasons, the Combine fitness testing will be held at the Toronto Congress Center on June 3-4. To help prepare for this year's Combine,'s Mike Morreale highlighted the top players at each position last week looking to make an impression. Make sure you're up to speed. Left wings | Right wings | Defensemen | Centers | Goalies

* Get the most recent mock draft results right here.

* All season long, top prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer (WHL), Scott Mayfield of Youngstown (USHL) and Seth Ambroz of Omaha (USHL) have maintained monthly blogs on Each player provided a little insight into their preparation for the Scouting Combine this month. You can check them out here: Nugent-Hopkins | Mayfield | Ambroz
Posted On Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 9:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don Hay may return as Canadian coach at WJC

According to TSN, Hockey Canada on Thursday afternoon will announce Don Hay as the head coach of Team Canada for the IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5, in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.

It would mark the second time Hockey Canada would turn to Hay to lead the program at the WJC. Hay, who just completed his seventh season as coach of the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League, coached Canada to a gold medal in 1995 with a team full of talented players, including Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden and Ryan Smyth.

During that run in 1995, when Canada finished 7-0-0 in the tournament, Canada's McCabe was named the best defenseman and Marty Murray the top forward.

Canada will play its Pool B games against the U.S., Finland, Czech Republic and Denmark in Edmonton before heading to Calgary for all playoff, relegation and medal games. Defending champion Russia will face Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Lavtia in Pool A.

Check back to later today following Hockey Canada's press conference at 4 p.m. ET for further details.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 1:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Memorial Cup draft-eligible leaderboard

So who among the 2011 draft eligible players are getting it done at the Memorial Cup after five days of activity within Hershey Centre in Mississauga?

Offensively, the creative wizardry of Tomas Jurco of the Saint John Sea Dogs has been on full display. Jurco, ranked No. 20 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, leads all scorers at the tournament with 4 goals and 5 points through three games.

His teammate, No. 3-ranked Jonathan Huberdeau, is in a five-way tie for second with 4 points (2 goals). In fact, the top four draft-eligible players from Saint John, including Huberdeau, No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu (1-2-3), No. 15 Zack Phillips (0-3-3) and Jurco are among the top seven point producers in the tournament.

Beaulieu ranks first among those defensemen in scoring with 1 goal and 3 points. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors blueliner Stuart Percy, rated No. 53 by Central Scouting, is tied with Beaulieu with 3 points -- all assists. He's in a five-way tie for seventh overall.

Owen Sound goalie Jordan Binnington, ranked third among those North American goalies eligible for the Entry Draft, is 1-0-1 with a tournament-low 1.31 goals-against average and tournament-high .959 save percentage.

Binnington was the third goalie to appear in the OHL finals for the Attack, stealing Game 6 and 7 while posting a 1.94 GAA and .943 save percentage. In 46 regular season games this season, he was 27-12-1-4 with a 3.05 GAA and .899 save percentage.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Posted On Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 9:32 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Playoff hero Bieksa supports college way of life

To the five collegians invited to the upcoming NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa has some uplifting news with regard to the college way of life.

Following a three-year stint in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Burlington Cougars, Bieksa had the choice of attending Bowling Green State University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association or playing for the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

"It was going to be Mississauga's inaugural season and I was drafted by them in the later rounds, but went to their camp nonetheless," Bieksa told "It was a tough decision because of all the hoopla going on, with Don Cherry taking over the franchise. I was a big fan of his and it was something I really wanted to be a part of. I made the team and had a sit-down with my dad to really go over my options."

As it turns out, spending four seasons at Bowling Green turned out to be the turning point of his hockey career.

"It was one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said.

That's music to the ears of 2011 draft-eligible forwards Matthew Nieto of Boston University and Nicholas Shore of Denver University, and defensemen Patrick Koudys of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Adam Clendening of Boston University and Jamieson Oleksiak of Northeastern. All five players were invited to the NHL Combine from May 30 to June 4, where they'll undergo numerous interviews and partake in medical examinations and fitness evaluations.

Each player has high hopes they'll be considered by an NHL team when the NHL Entry Draft takes center stage at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25.

Bieksa's advice is something none of the players will take for granted, particular since the sixth-season Canuck played such a vital role in Vancouver's five-game series triumph over the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final. Bieksa's goal 10:18 into the second overtime on Tuesday resulted in Vancouver's first trip to the Cup Final since 1994 -- 17 years to the day.

In 2000-01, Bieksa joined the Falcons and produced 13 points in 35 games as a freshman to help BGSU become the lowest-seeded team (ninth) in CCHA history to advance to the league semifinals. He scored his team's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Michigan State before Bowling Green was eliminated.

In June 2001, Bieksa was drafted by the Canucks in the fifth round (No. 151). He ended up playing four seasons at Bowling Green, where he scored 75 points in 147 games.

"Let's be realistic," Bieksa said. "At 16 years old, how many kids are actually going to make the NHL? So I wanted a fall-back plan. I didn't want to put all my eggs all in one basket, so I thought I'd go to school and get an education. The college route was picking up then and if I could make the NHL out of college, great, and if not, I had a (finance) degree to fall back on. I'd always been a pretty good student, so I think I made the right decision."

Bieksa said he would recommend college to any junior-age player asking for advice.

"I think there are cases where it's not beneficial, where some kids aren't going to finish school or aren't cut out for the classroom," he said. "But college turns you into a man, especially when you're moving away from home and living on your own. In college, you have unlimited responsibilities and schedules you have to fulfill. It's a great learning experience. I think you see a lot of college guys who, when they enter the NHL as rookies, are a little more mature as people on and off the ice."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Posted On Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 4:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Right wings Salomaki and Shaw will attract attention

In case you missed it, on Tuesday published its list of the top right wings invited to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto from May 30 through June 4.

That compilation of prospects is pretty impressive, but two other skaters who worked the right side of the ice this past season who will also be participating at the Combine shouldn't be forgotten.

Miikka Salomaki, Karpat (Finland): The skinny on the 5-11, 198-pound Finn, listed as a right wing on NHL Central Scouting's list of European skaters, is that he compensates for his lack in natural talent with a tremendous work ethic.

In 40 games with Karpat in SM-liiga, he produced 4 goals, 10 points and 53 penalty minutes. He stood out in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo for his native Finland with 2 goals and 3 points in six games and collected 4 goals and 6 points in six games at the Under-18 World Championship in Germany. Salomaki is rated No. 7 overall among Europeans.

"Miikka is strong as a bull in one-on-one situations," Stubb told "He's a 100 percent team player. Whoever drafts him, will get a very useful two-way player whose overall skill level is surprisingly high."

Logan Shaw, Cape Breton (QMJHL): Another big (6-foot-3, 197 pounds), power-forward type who displayed greater confidence as the season wore on. In his third year on the Eagles' roster, Shaw was considered a veteran despite being only 18-years-old -- the team didn't possess any 19-year-olds.

He led his 18-45-1-4 team in scoring with 26 goals, including 9 power-play goals, and 46 points in 68 games -- all career highs. He also won 48 percent of his faceoffs on 94 attempts while generating a team-leading 190 shots on goal.

"As the season progressed, he displayed his very good skating abilities and puck skills," Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau said. "He was hanging on to the puck and making heads-up plays at the right time. He displayed more self-confidence as the year went on and, don't forget, his team has to travel 40 percent more than any other team in the 'Q'. He has the potential to be a good player at the next level."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Posted On Monday, 05.23.2011 / 12:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

A return to Sweden is possible for Adam Larsson

Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson, a likely top five selection at this year's Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24, confirmed he hasn't yet decided whether he'll play in North America next season.

While Larsson is actually under contract with Skelleftea for 2011-12 in Sweden's Elitserien, that wouldn't keep him from beginning what is sure to be a prosperous NHL career. Still, it wouldn't come as surprise to his agent, Claes Elefalk, if Larsson spent one more season in the Swedish Elite League.

"Normally in most cases, we Euros think it's sometimes an advantage to stay one or two seasons after the Draft," Elefalk told "It's a tremendous culture change but it's not unusual to see players playing in Europe stay there an additional year or two. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) was an exception but we'll have to see what happens. Our belief is we'll stay another year or two in Sweden."

When recently contacted in his native Skelleftea, Larsson told he would wait until after the Draft to determine for sure whether or not he would remain in Sweden's Elitserien at least one more season.

"I can play in the NHL next year (despite being under contract) but I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do next season," Larsson said. "But I'm ready, but am still learning every day. I think if I do decide to play in North America, I want to feel very prepared for it."

The youngest player on the team had 9 points and 41 penalty minutes in 37 regular-season games with Skelleftea this season and chipped in 4 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. He also had a goal and 4 points in six games in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., in January.

Whether or not Larsson decides to spend another year in Sweden shouldn't diminish his draft status. Most scouts have him rated among the top overall list of draft-eligible players. His upside along the blueline has been well documented and the fact he played well on the smaller North American ice surface during the WJC is further proof of his ability to play in tight corners. He's looking forward to meeting the NHL GM's and scouts at the Scouting Combine next week.

"I talked to teammates about the Combine and they gave me some tips so I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've taken the test done on the bikes a couple of weeks ago, so I feel I'm prepared what it is going to be like going in."

More to come following the NHL Scouting Combine next week ...

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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