Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/22/13 at 07:09 AM ET
from Henrik Manninen at IIHF.com,
A standout both on and off the ice in his native country, 19-year-old Yuto Osawa opted to travel west to Sweden to continue his development - a move set to pay dividends for Japanese hockey in the future.
When Ronald Sätterman scrutinised his roster ahead of this season, a kid from Hokkaido surprised the newly appointed head coach of Mora IK:s under-20 team.
"I must admit I didn't know enough about hockey in Japan and it was a deal that had been done before I arrived to the club," said Sätterman about the transfer of Osawa to Mora. "So when I saw that there was a Japanese player in our under-20's, I expected him to end up with our affiliate team, Orsa Hockey in division two, but when I then during our first practises I very quickly realised that this kid was good."
The story of how a teenage Asian prospect ended up in small town Sweden has its beginnings at the tail end of last season. The Oji Eagles had then approached Mora about the possibility of sending over one of their youngsters, a highly-rated young playmaker, overseas to develop his game in Europe. With the Japanese club taking care of all costs, the two teams shook hands on a gamble that has since benefited both parties.
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