by PuckStopsHere on 04/14/13 at 03:26 PM ET
I have chosen a rather mundane title for this post because from an NHL standpoint this probably isn't a significant story. The Boston Bruins have signed Carl Soderberg to a three year contract worth $1 million per year. This season counts as the first season of the three so he will not play many games in his first "year". Boston has seven regular season games left this year plus their playoff run.
Carl Soderberg was the second highest scorer in the Swedish Elite League this season. This is his highest scoring season to date in Sweden. He has been reasonably successful in international play, especially in his days in the World Junior Hockey Championships, so he has been on NHL radar for years. At age 27, he will make his NHL debut.
He isn't a serious candidate for the "best player outside the NHL" - that is an award I would give to Alexander Radulov and Radulov wasn't good enough to steal games last year in the playoffs. In fact Radulov's major contribution to the NHL last year was his negative attitude that helped to lead to Nashville's early demise in the playoffs. As Soderberg is a lesser player, I would not expect even that big a contribution - but at least he wants to be there.
Sweden didn't want to see Soderberg leave. They were hoping to see him star for then in the World Hockey Championships. They challenged Soderberg's transfer to the NHL but were overruled because his Swedish team (Linkoping) had okayed the transfer.
This move is important in terms of international hockey relations. The NHL has taken most of the top talent from European hockey leagues and the Europeans feel they have had insufficient compensation for it. The Russians have fought with the NHL and created some problems with player transfers. As a result there are fewer Russians in the NHL than there used to be a decade ago. We are beginning to see some of the other more friendly nations fighting back. If Sweden acts to reduce the ease of player transfers from their league to the NHL this will serve to reduce the NHL talent pool. That isn't a good thing for the North American hockey fan but it appears to be a likely path in the future. I think Carl Soderberg may be the first attempted battle and there may be other bigger ones in the future. Likely the NHL will lose some of those battles and be delayed in their transfers in the future. This will serve to weaken the NHL talent pool in the future.
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