Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks' 5th round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, has been selected as the first of four candidates for 2009-10 Rookie of the Year honors in the Swedish Elite League.
The 19-year-old Djurgårdens IF center has 6 goals and 12 assists in 16 games to start the season.
"Clearly, Marcus is a talent beyond the ordinary," said Djurgårdens coach Hardy Nilsson in a Swedish Ice Hockey Association press release.
“Despite his youth, he has taken on big responsibilities," noted the selection jury. "Quite clearly a talent out of the ordinary.”
Blackhawks European pro scout Mats Hallin says that while Kruger's physical gifts are considerable, it's the mental aspect of the game where he really excels.
"Marcus' hockey sense is incredible," said Hallin. "There are other players who may be bigger and stronger than he is, but his knowledge of the game sets him apart."
Kruger's nomination for the award is an important milestone in his professional career, and one that Hallin thinks Kruger can build on in his journey to the NHL.
"He's been doing more than what we expected," Hallin said. "He's growing so quickly right now, but he probably has a couple more years before he can really be ready for the NHL. You never know, though - I coached [Los Angeles'] Anze Kopitar and said the same thing about him, and you see what he's doing now. We'll have to see how Marcus progresses, but he's already a fun player to watch."