With puck drop on the new season less than a month away the pre season is in full swing as hockey has returned to Sweden. Also, for the first time in more than a year, fans have returned to the stands to cheer on their teams.
The pre season schedule kicked off last Tuesday with a pair of games as Linköping squared off against defending Champions Växjö and Frölunda hosted Rögle. Both games hosted minimal crowds with Saab arena seeing just 1250 fans in the stadium to witness their 2-0 loss to the Lakers. The other game was a bit tighter as fans were treted to a 4-3 overtime win by Rögle. Mattias Norlinder had a pair of goals for Frölunda and had this to say after the game.
"The first period was a bit awkward, I think. We calmed down quite well for the second period, with more puck control and I think we can build on that for the next match. We need to be more stable across the ice, both offensively and defensively. Nothing is perfect, so we have to hone details and work on it."
The second day of pre season action on Wednesday saw two games end with 4-3 victories for the away teams as Timrås first game back in the SHL was a success against Brynäs and Örebro handed Färjestad a loss.
Thursday saw two big blowout wins in pre season action as Frölunda handed the defending champs a 5-1 loss and Luleå visited HockeyAllsvenskan team Björkloven and managed a 9-0 win. Luleå's newly aqcuired forward Brendan Shinnimin and defenceman Julius Honka both had a pair of goals and Shinnimin added an additional two assists to help the team to the big win. Björklöven managed just 14 shots against the Northern most SHL team, all of which were turned aside by Jesper Wallstedt.
Friday night was the busiest day of pre season so far as eight teams were in action. Linköping once again failed to grab a pre season win as they fell 3-2 to Oskarshamn. Malmö boasted a big 5-0 win in their first pre season game against Timrå. Leksand and Djurgården went tit for tat in a high scoring affair that saw Djurgården come away with the 6-5 victory in the shootout and Skellefteå handed its northern rival Luleå a 4-0 loss.
The pre season continues this week with multiple games. Check out the schedule and more information on previous games here.
With the season fast approaching most teams have finalized their pre season rosters, player movement this week was very minimal but still saw a couple of announcements.
The big news of the week was the aqcuisition of Tom Kühnhackl by Skellefteå. The 29 year old German has spent the last decade playing in North America in the OHL, AHL and the NHL where he played for both Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.
"I'm really looking forward to going over and meeting the team! It feels incredibly exciting as I have only heard good things about the league and the club in particular. Stefan (Loibl) has told me that it is a hockey-crazy city with passionate fans and to be able to come to such a place, that is something you love as a player" says Kühnhackl, who has a signed a two year deal that extends through the 2023 season.
The other big move of the week concerns a player going to the other direction as young William Eklund has signed an entry level contract with the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks drafted Eklund 7th overall in this summers NHL entry draft. Eklund will join the Sharks for training camp next week, however his contract does have a clause that would allow him to return to Djurgården on loan for the upcoming SHL season.