According to reports, Toronto Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke is once again shopping overseas.
This time though he has a twenty two year old Norwegian rocket in his sights. Toronto however, much like the pursuit of Gustavsson, appears to have company in the chase.
Mats Zuccarello Aasen, currently plays for Modo of the Swedish Premiere League and is coming off his second season in which he scored twenty-three goals and added forty-one assists for sixty-four points in just fifty-five games.
Damian Cox of the Toronto Star writes,
“Some have nicknamed him MZA or the Norwegian Hobbit, and this week he was named the winner of the Yellow Helmet in the Swedish Elite League as MVP according to the players, a Swedish version of the Lester B. Pearson Award.”
Swedish hockey legend and Farjestads general manager Per Hakan Loob spoke of Aasen in 2008:
“It would have been wrong of me to say that Mats Zuccarello Aasen is not a player we see as hugely exciting.”
Loob described Aasen as a proper, technical player with strong skating skills and believed he could translate that combination successfully in the Elitserien and become a “hit.”
Farjestad was in the running to sign Aasen in 2008 but was unable to get a deal done before the transfer window closed that year.
At just 5'7" and 160lbs, Aasen is certainly small by NHL standards and may in fact never play a game in the league, but, if Burke thinks he's worth a look there has to be something there.
Jason Blake isn't much bigger and may not have half the talent.
There currently ins't a lot of information to be had on this young Norwegian, but by all appearances he would likely be a good fit with a young Toronto Maple Leafs team that is currently built on speed. If he can make the adjustment to the smaller ice surface and bulk up a little, Aasen could prove to be a sensational winger in the NHL for years to come