A couple of seasons ago, you may or may not have heard the name Fabian Brunnstrom. No, he’s not a ’60s teen idol but he’s a talented forward from Sweden who drew plenty of interest from several NHL teams. The Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings were in the running to sign the free agent, but he chose the Dallas Stars instead. While he scored a hat trick in his first NHL game, he hasn’t done much else since. He was with the Stars organization for two seasons until he was traded to the Maple Leafs. He spent last season with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Fast forward to the present as the Red Wings, who were in the running in the Brunnstrom Sweepstakes in 2008, gave the Helsingborg, Sweden native a chance to see what he could do at Training Camp. So far, Brunnstrom has fared well for himself. He’s making plays and he’s not turning over the puck, so that’s a good start. He’s got to know that if he doesn’t make the cut, he’ll be Sweden’s biggest one-hit wonder since “The Final Countdown” by Europe back in 1986.
He’s got the size (6’1″, 205 lbs.) and he does have skills. He plays the puck-possession game that suits the Red Wings, but the knock on him is that he doesn’t play both ends of the ice and his work ethic has been in question. Playing both sides is very important (espcially if he makes the team) and he won’t have much time to show what he can do over the next couple of weeks. The Red Wings almost have their forwards penciled in for the upcoming season, but if Brunnstrom doesn’t make the big club, he could start the season in the AHL playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
This isn’t the first time that a player with talent came to Detroit and tried to prove himself. Dan Cleary was invited to Traverse City in 2005 and knew if he didn’t make the team, the opportunity of playing in the NHL would diminish. With hustle and determination, he made the team. In his first season with the Red Wings, he was primarily a defensive forward and did very well. The following season, he was awarded with more playing time and proved that he could play both sides of the ice. Last season he scored a career-high 26 goals and is one of the most popular players on the team. He continues to play with grit and determination.
Will Brunnstrom be a part of the Swedish Invasion in Detroit? It’s up to him to show what he’s got and the clock is ticking. This Wednesday in Pittsburgh will be his first test.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.