Fabian’s Forte

This is Fabian Brunnstrom in what is possibly the single worst looking jersey in the history of time.

Brunnstrom is as famous as the Bay City Rollers were before appearing on the Howard Cosell show maybe 1975: a lot of rattle, not much hum.

We’ll see.

His Swedish Elite League numbers (54gp, 9-28-37) don’t scream “Beatles” and frankly don’t rise much past “Klaatu.”

We’ll see.

Linus Omark, an Oilers draft, went 55gp, 11-21-32 in the same league. Omark is a very small forward (5-9, 168) and Brunnstrom is 6-1, 203. Elite Prospects says of Fabian “An offensively gifted forward with a decent scoring touch. Brunnström is a speedy skater with soft hands and good technical skills. Combines speed and stickhandling in an impressive way. Hockey sense is pretty good and he is also strong physically with a good attitude.”

We’ll see.

Desjardins NHLE (.78) suggests that over 82gp (given the same minutes and quality of linemates) Brunnstrom would deliver 11-33-44. Centermen who delivered in that general area this past season included Andrew Cogliano, Steven Reinprecht, John Madden, Jeff Halpern and Stephen Weiss.

We’ll see.

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23 Responses to "Fabian’s Forte"

  1. PunjabiOil says:

    Patrick Thoresen would be another comparable.

    Many Swedish posters on HF note they don’t understand the hype of Fabian.

    We’ll see indeed.

  2. Bruce says:

    Brunnstrom leads the league in rumours. Facts OTOH seem in short supply. Thanks for the update.

  3. HBomb says:

    Generally speaking, late-blooming Europeans are not undrafted free-agents.

    Why, you ask?

    Because they’re usually Detroit property.

  4. Baroque says:

    Like Johan Franzen? :)

    That jersey is absolutely the worst I’ve ever seen – no possible about it.

  5. Andrew says:

    Franzen…this year’s Pisani?

  6. HBomb says:

    Franzen…this year’s Pisani?

    I brought up two names at my playoff draft of potential guys to have the title of “Pisani 2008″.

    One was Franzen. The other was Ryane Clowe. Of course, I ended up with neither of them on my team (Milan Michalek 20th overall….BRILLIANT).

    But yeah, Franzen was one of the examples I was talking about. For everything good the Oilers scouting staff might have given us in the past few years, they’ve got to take a page out of the Red Wings playbook and do a better job in Europe.

  7. jon k says:

    Franzen had some pretty big goals last playoff as well, notable against Calgary. ;)

    I think in large part the hype around Brunnstrom stems from a perceived higher ceiling because he was a “late bloomer”. I’d argue that smart money is that Brunnstrom is a 23 year old who likely will have an established level of play in the NHL not far off Franzen or Samuelsson. Probably slightly more.

    There is also something to be said for the fact that he is a free agent. He can be had for words and money. Combine that with a possibility of more potential and that equates to a bit of a hype storm.

  8. jadeddog says:

    i dont get the hype for this kid either, not at all

    and i agree that the oilers need to spend some serious dough on improving their european scouting…. this should be one of the higest priorities once katz takes over…. in a cap world, rich teams need to spend in non-salary ways to improve the club… scouting is the most obvious of these ways

  9. Jonathan says:

    Many Swedish posters on HF note they don’t understand the hype of Fabian.

    This excerpt from a Darren Dreger article on TSN.ca:

    The manner in which some NHL teams deal with colleges and college players is also a huge area of concern, specific to unsigned or undrafted unrestricted free agent sophomores who in some cases are hounded to distraction by NHL teams hoping to sign him.

    My bet- most undrafted free agents of interest to teams don’t make the cover of the Hockey News like Brunnstrom did. As I mention on my site, I really didn’t view the process to get undrafted UFAs as a freeding frenzy, but I guess it is.

    It is entirely possible that the negotiations for this kid aren’t that unusual; it just usually doesn’t get reported.

  10. doritogrande says:

    How is it that Johan Franzen was drafted, yet Bruunstrom is allowed to go to the highest bidder?

    Is it just a case of “shit happens”?

  11. Ducey says:

    Seems that the rumours about Fabio are that he wants a guarantee he will stay on the NHL club for the season.

    I can’t see him breaking the top 6 on the Oil or even getting the nod over Schemp. Not a fit here unless he is willing to sit on the farm for a year.

    Maybe the Oilers could do some actual scouting and find the next Fabio and sign him to a 2 way deal while he is still under the radar.

  12. Jonathan says:

    How is it that Johan Franzen was drafted, yet Bruunstrom is allowed to go to the highest bidder?

    I believe Brunnstrom passed through the draft without being selected twice; at that point a player becomes a UFA.

  13. doritogrande says:


    But Franzen was in his mid-20s when he was drafted, essentially passing through his two drafts. That’s why I’m confused.

  14. PDO says:

    Many Swedish posters on HF note they don’t understand the hype of Fabian.

    They don’t understand that the Maple Leafs have a shot at him.

  15. Jonathan says:

    But Franzen was in his mid-20s when he was drafted, essentially passing through his two drafts. That’s why I’m confused.

    IIRC, a player doesn’t need to opt in at a typical age, ie 18. Many European players chose not to sign the NHL paperwork associated with the draft until they’re a bit older, or until they’re interested in coming to North America. Thus, if Franzen didn’t opt into the draft until he was 24 or 25, he would still need to pass through his two drafts to become a UFA.

    Brunnstrom must have opted in at 18 & 19 and gone unselected to be UFA. Of course, that’s just the way I understand it, and someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  16. allan says:

    The rules changed in the new CBA, so that European players are treated the same way as North Americans. Two shots at being drafted, and two years to sign after the draft, or they become UFA. Under the old CBA, they had to be drafted before signing, and the team held their rights in perpetuity if they did not sign.

  17. James Mirtle says:

    What Allan said.

    I talked to a few reporters in Sweden who also didn’t quite get the hype. He’s good — but not good enough to justify the silliness that’s going on.

    And trying to hang this on Canucks ownership as a reason to have kept Nonis? Honestly.

  18. Baroque says:

    It sounds like some GMs are falling into an “auction mentality.”

    If anyone has ever participated in an auction (especially one for charity, so you have the “but it’s for a good cause!” justification), you have seen this.

    As the bidding proceeds and the values get higher and most bidders drop out, the bidding sometimes become more a competition to see who wins than a process to determine the value of an item. The actual thing available for purchase can become secondary to actually putting in the highest bid and beating that guy across the room who keeps increasing his bid instead of letting you win, the irritating s.o.b. :)

    That’s probably why Detroit won’t wind up with him. The rumours have had an offer of a month with the Red Wings to show what he can contribute, but not a guaranteed roster spor for an entire season because he might not show he can play well enough to deserve it yet.

  19. kanadienkyle says:

    The Swedish Jiri Dopita?

  20. honkey says:

    To compare Dopita and Brunnström is a disgrace against Dopita. He has won gold medals in Olympic Games, World Championship and a few National Championship in Czech Republic on top of that. He’s still going strong at age 39 putting up 30 point in the league there.

    If Brunnström has half of Dopita career he will be a helluva player.

  21. Bruce says:

    Well said, Honkey. One of my great disappointments as an Oiler fan the last ten years was Dopita’s failure to make any sort of impression here. He certainly was a wonderful player. The fucker killed us at the Worlds and Olympics more than once.

    Dopita was 33 when he came over, and that’s mighty late in hockey life to be adapting to the NHL game, no matter how good you are. Particularly tough on East Europeans who tend to face a much bigger language barrier than the Scandinavians.

    I try to think of another significant international player who hit the league at that age and the best I can come up with is another superstar Czech, Vaclav Nedomansky, who was 33 when he “broke in” with the Red Wings in 1977 and produced a couple of big seasons thereafter. Big But: Nedomansky had played three plus years in the WHA before that so he was far more acclimated than Dopita could have been. A wondrous offensive talent, “Big Ned” remains a member in good standing in the All Floater league; he was a significant minus player all six years he stayed in the league. (He’s the guy Rosie Ruzicka patterned his game after.)

    Other East European stars have generally been younger when they jumped the pond. e.g. The Russian Green Unit — Fetisov, Kasatonov, Krutov, Larionov, Makarov, great players all — were all 29-31. While they had varying degrees of success here, it’s hard to argue their best years were already behind them when they got here.

    Similar thing here when Jaroslav Pouzar, an accomplished international star, arrived at 31. A major sniper in the Czechoslovak League and on the international stage, “Pouz” didn’t exactly tear up the league, even playing with Gretzky and Kurri. He was “merely” an extremely useful role player who became just the second man ever (after Sid Smith) to win both a World Championship and a Stanley Cup. Three Stanley Cups, to be exact. A man of extraordinary courage and character, Pouzar remains one of my favourite Oilers ever; any word on his health these days?

  22. digger says:


    One player I look back on in similar terms was good ol’ Rosie Ruzicka.

    He was a guy that also had the nebulous “Best player in the world outside the NHL” title back in the late 80′s when he was tearing apart the Czech league, before finally deciding to try his hand in the NHL at the age of 26. After a brief stint with the Oilers where he had some minor success but never really fit in, he went and played 2 1/2 years with the Bruins followed by a forgettable stint with the Sens where it was obvious his heart wasn’t in it anymore.

    After that it was back to Europe, and there he stayed.

    He was a very similar player to Dopita in terms of style, IIRC. For some reason I’ll always remember his first NHL goal, a nice one timer off the RW half boards on the PP.

  23. Bruce says:

    Digger: Yeah, Rosie’s another who could be filed under “disappointment”, although as I mentioned above his style reminded me much more of Nedomansky than Dopita, who was much more a two-way player.

    Vladimir Ruzicka had beauty talent, reminded some of Mario Lemieux with his huge wingspan and soft hands. He posted some impressive numbers for the Oilers after arriving well into the 1989-90 season, scoring 11 goals in just 25 games, but also an horrendous -21. hockeydraftcentral.com says the following about Rosie’s stay in Edmonton, including an interesting tidbit about the change in hockey culture these fellows have to endure:

    1989-90: Played 25 regular-season games for Edmonton team that went on to win Stanley Cup, but did not appear in any postseason games and was ineligible to have his name engraved on Cup.
    Miscellaneous: Drew bench minor penalty in first game for coming onto ice at end of second period to congratulate Edmonton goalie Bill Ranford on his performance. The practice was common in Europe, but Ruzicka did not know that it was not allowed under NHL rules and he could only do such a thing at the end of a game, not end of a period. … Played on line with Esa Tikkanen and Jari Kurri for Edmonton in 1989-90. … Was Edmonton’s Three-Stars leader for March/April 1990. … Held out of 1990 playoffs by Edmonton, which considered him a defensive liability. … Became expendable for Edmonton at start of 1990-91 season because Oilers had too many centers on roster. As a result Edmonton traded Ruzicka to Boston for Greg Hawgood on Oct. 22, 1990.

    Rosie probably wasn’t too happy to be replaced by Mark Lamb in Gretzky’s old spot between Kurri and Tikkanen. Hindsight says the Oilers didn’t do the wrong thing — we did after all win the Cup — and the line became a little more dependable even as it was lot less dynamic.

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