The Boston Bruins' hopes of signing Swedish star Carl Soderberg for the stretch run have taken a major blow this afternoon, as the Swedish Ice Hockey Association has rejected the gifted center's transfer to the NHL.
The Bruins acquired Soderberg's rights from the St. Louis Blues in 2007 and supposedly inked the 27-year-old to a three-year deal this week.
Soderberg's Swedish season ended with Linkopings HC's loss to Skelleftea AIK in the second round of the Elitserien playoffs last week. Immediately after the series ended, the Bruins set about attempting to bring Soderberg to Boston to help their inconsistent offense.
With Linkopings and Soderberg agreeing to the move, the only remaining road block was the SIHA, which hoped to hang on to the player for the upcoming IIHF World Championships, which Sweden will co-host in May along with neighboring Finland.
The SIHA announced this afternoon that it has moved to halt Soderberg's transfer to the NHL, according to Marie Lehmann of Hockey Night in Sweden:
Carl Söderberg will not be released to the NHL, the Swedish Federation just announced. #twittpuck— Marie Lehmann (@svtlehmann) April 11, 2013
"he's the best Swedish centerman and will be the cornerstone of Tre Kronor in Stockholm WC", Peter Forsberg (not THAT PF..) vice president— Marie Lehmann (@svtlehmann) April 11, 2013
Soderberg led the Elitserien with 31 goals this season, finishing second in points with 60 in 54 games. The big center looked destined to provide a major spark for a Boston team that can clinch a playoff spot tonight.
If the SIHA does not change its decision, it will be the second time in recent weeks that Boston has been denied a coveted player at the last minute after believing that a deal was done.
Back in March, the Bruins had seemingly won the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes before being informed that the future Hall of Famer had opted to join the Pittsburgh Penguins instead.
In this case, it seems that Soderberg sincerely hoped to make his NHL debut for the Bruins. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Soderberg was set to earn $2.6 million between now and the summer of 2015.
It is unclear what will happen next, though The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa points out that this could be far from over:
The NHL is entering a five-day period to determine its next move, according to a source familiar with the situation. The NHL could go against the Swedes and stamp Soderberg’s transfer card. If that happens and the Swedish federation balks, the issue might have to be settled in an arbitration court.
For now, the Bruins will have to move forward without the so-called "Yeti" as they look to extend their slim one-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division.