Jonas Hoglund still shakes his head whenever someone asks him about the trade that almost happened. In the offseason, the Leafs thought they traded Hoglund to Boston for prospect Kyle Wanvig. But a problem with the fax machine didn't allow the deal to go through on time and Hoglund was left in an awkward situation.
Coming back to a team that traded you would be difficult for anyone and Hoglund conceded that "it was a tough time for sure."
It would have been understandable if Hoglund came into the season with a less than enthusiastic attitude, but the 29-year-old not only is playing a regular shift, he's playing on the top line. The failed trade that almost sent him to Boston didn't sour Hoglund's spirits and, in fact, gave him motivation to play better.
| Jonas Hoglund has had a strong start to the season, surprising many. |
"It made me even work harder in the summer time," said Hoglund. "I wanted to come here in the best possible shape and work hard every game."
When Mikael Renberg was acquired from Phoenix it was thought that Leafs coach Pat Quinn would put him on a line with Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts. Quinn however surprised many by putting Hoglund with Sundin and Renberg.
Through the first seven games, Hoglund has more than held his own on the top line. After notching his fourth goal of the year in Thursday's 6-5 in Vancouver, Hoglund now shares the team lead in scoring with Alexander Mogilny and Shayne Corson. Hoglund's total of seven points and plus-minus of +6 also rank among the team best. And with the winning goal against Carolina last week, he is obviously very comfortable playing with his two countrymen. This all-Swedish unit has combined for 23 points in the first seven games.
"The feeling I have right now is that I want the puck and I want to score," he said. "I guess my confidence level is way up there now and I'm having a good time playing hockey. Right now all three of us are playing well together. It's pretty easy to play with a guy like Mats, and Mikael too."
There's no secret to Hoglund's game. He admits that about half of his goals are scored from the slot and his strong frame allows him to withstand punishment in front of opposing goaltenders.
"He can really move and he's a good skater," said Renberg. "What impresses me the most is that he has a great shot and he's so dangerous around the net. He doesn't hesitate when he has the puck. You know that when you give Jonas a pass it's a great scoring opportunity."
Sundin is one Leaf who's relieved that the trade didn't go through. He saw first-hand the emotional roller coaster Hoglund endured in the summer and knows what a positive presence he is in the locker room.
"He means a lot to the team," he said. "He's a team player, a great guy in the room, and he never complains. I think he has grown as a player and as a person. He has come a long way. He was in a tough situation this summer, but he handled it great and professionally."