The hockey world is all agog with the news that Fabian Brunnstrom, player for Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite League, is available.
Brunnstrom seemed headed for Vancouver, and the paperwork was all in order. Then the Canucks did something wrong. They fired GM Dave Nonis. While firing Nonis may be a good or bad thing, I guess we'll find out this fall.
It took Brunnstrom right out of the Canucks' hands and, reportedly, into the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Caution. This guy will bolt if the leadership changes, and that is guaranteed to happen in Toronto.
Brunnstrom and his agent, the familiar JP Barry, seem to indicate that Toronto is on the short list and hopes to have something in place by the beginning of May.
So Fabian, you better be sure because Cliff Fletcher will sign the contract. He’d better hope the new GM has plans for him.
And speaking of plans, what makes JP Barry and Brunnstrom so sure the Leafs want him?
Brunnstrom wants a deal like Juri Tlusty to enter into the Leafs’ lineup right from day one. He wants the max for a rookie—$875,000 plus bonuses—to boost it up to the range of $2 million annually. All this for a player who thinks he can play at the NHL level immediately.
Also, Brunnstrom is looking for all this with a shockingly average statistics set. In 54 games, Brunnstrom netted nine goals and 28 assists.
Maple Leafs’ "disappointment” Jason Blake has more points at the NHL level. Brunnstrom is being billed as the next Daniel Alfredsson. He better be, to be asking for what he's asking for.
Steve Stamkos and Drew Doughty couldn't expect more than what Brunnstrom is looking for. The best thing going for Brunnstrom is this.
He is big, strong, and has a lot of raw talent. He also comes at a discount and will not cost a draft pick.
That being said, he has a pretty high opinion of himself and he thinks that he can have an impact as an offensive player in the NHL. Nick Kulemin thought the same thing, and was disappointed to be sent down to the Marlies.
He returned to Russia where he has developed nicely and could be in the Leafs’ lineup this fall.
It's just that right now, Brunnstrom is an unknown quantity. He could be great, or he could be another Leaf gamble that blows up.
If I were Cliff Fletcher, I would sign him to a two-way deal with the understanding that time with the big club will be earned and not assumed.