Compare / Contrast
Last week the Vancouver Canucks top prospect Nicklas Jensen was discussing the possibility of foregoing his last year of major junior eligibility with the Oshawa Generals in order to play a season in the Swedish Elite League should he not make the Canucks roster for the 2012/13 season.
It is an ambitious and intriguing notion from a thought provoking player.
The determination of the young man and his raw physical tools (speed, impressive size, and cannonball shot) portend a comparison with Gabriel Landeskog, the Swedish Calder Trophy winner from the Colorado Avalanche.
Both players are highly intelligent and have notable work rates.
They are both first round NHL picks, though admittedly at opposing ends of the round since Landeskog went 2nd overall and Jensen was picked 29th.
The two Scandinavians also chose to develop their respective games in North America at the major junior level in order to better integrate with the North American style of hockey, signifying their focus and intent.
Jensen is a fast learner.
He moved up to the AHL with the Chicago Wolves after the Generals were knocked out of the OHL playoff picture last season and thrived.
He scored 6 goals in 8 games between the final regular season run-in and the first two Wolves playoff contests, before an elbow induced concussion forced the Canucks organization shut him down for precaution and recovery.
He also pulled the Danish side to the top of the second tier World Junior Championships’ tournament in 2011, allowing them to compete with the top nations like Canada, Russia and Sweden for the 2012 event.
At that competition he was named an alternate captain and produced 6 points in 6 games to lead Denmark in scoring.
The here and now
The statement about testing the waters of pro hockey in the skill focussed Swedish league is a judicious concept, but I hope that this message further motivates the Canucks management and that Jensen gets an extra long look in training camp.
A motivated player can make a world of difference for a team, youth brings energy and the Canucks could do with a player of purpose to re-energize their Stanley Cup pursuit, provided the maturity and skills are ready to meet.
Not many people would have predicted that Landeskog would attain the prominence he did with Colorado, but opportunity was provided and taken.
Jensen is not ready for a first line role, but could he already make a fourth or even third line better for Vancouver?
Canucks fans weigh in below.