It’s a brand new season in Hershey. The Bears had a rough 2017-18 campaign, finishing last in the Atlantic Division and missing the playoffs. This season, the Bears look like a completely new team with the addition of several Caps prospects including Swedish forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby.
The rumor mill this week had some wondering if Jonsson-Fjallby was going to take his golden locks back home to Sweden after only two games in the AHL. Rumors spread Monday and Tuesday saying he was going to return to his SHL team Djurgardens IF, but those rumors are untrue.
I reached out to Hershey and was told that Jonsson-Fjallby remains in Hershey and there are no plans for him to return to Sweden at this time.
Hershey also tweeted out this update to prove Jonsson-Fjallby was still with the team.
@OfficialBigTuna just needs a second of your time to help clear the air. @axelfjallby and the team just finished a team picture and now hit the ice for practice at Giant Center. #HBH pic.twitter.com/S0zkbJmvV0— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) October 9, 2018
You do not know what a player’s specific situation is when it comes to family or how he is adjusting to living in a new country, but from a pure hockey perspective, Jonsson-Fjallby would be wise to stay in Hershey. There he can adjust to the North American game and better position himself to compete for a spot on the Caps in the coming years.
There could even be an outside chance of a call-up this year if the need arises.
Jonsson-Fjallby’s best asset is his speed. If there’s a situation in which the Caps need to plug a player in its fourth line for a game or two, Jonsson-Fjallby could be a good choice because of that speed. Obviously, Shane Gersich or Riley Barber would probably look like better candidates for longer-term call-ups, but it does not seem out of the realm of possibility that Jonsson-Fjallby could be considered if the Caps suffer a few injuries among the team’s forwards.
That obviously won’t happen if he goes back to Sweden.
The fact is, the North American game can be hard to adjust to. Not many players can play in Europe and then step directly into the NHL and be effective. Just ask Sergei Shumakov.
A move back to Sweden for Jonsson-Fjallby would be a step in the wrong direction for his NHL career. Luckily for him, there appears to be no truth to the rumors that he was planning on leaving.
Other Prospect Notes:
· Hershey has elected to start the season without naming a captain. Instead, the team will go with six alternate captains. Riley Barber, Liam O’Brien and Aaron Ness will wear the A for home games while Tyler Lewington, Michael Sgarbossa and Colby Williams will get the A for away games.
· Ilya Samsonov started in the Bears’ opening game on Saturday in what was his first ever professional start in North America. Hershey lost the game 3-2 to Syracuse with Samsonov making 28 saves on 31 shots.
· The seasons for junior hockey leagues are in full swing. In the WHL, Eric Florchuk is off to a hot start with three goals and eight points in eight games for Saskatoon. He was named the WHL’s third star for Oct. 3. Teammate Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen has two goals and three points. Riley Sutter has two goals and six points in six games for Everett. Alex Alexeyev has been red hot to start with three goals and nine points in seven games for Red Deer. In the OHL, Kody Clark has three goals and four points in nine games for Ottawa.
· Ryan Kennedy named defenseman Benton Maass No. 15 in The Hockey News’ top 75 players to watch in NCAA. Writes Kennedy, “The sophomore offensive defenseman got off to a hot start as a frosh; can the Washington Capitals pick hit another level this year?” Maass scored four goals and 17 points in his freshman season at the University of New Hampshire.
· Forward Steven Spinner has been named an alternate captain for his senior season at Nebraska-Omaha.
· The Capitals chose not to sign prospect defenseman Dmitri Zaitsev (whose first name I have seen spelled in four different ways since he was drafted) to an entry-level contract in the offseason, thus forfeiting his rights. Zaitsev was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Capitals and spent the last two seasons playing for Moose Jaw of the WHL. Since not getting signed by the Capitals, he returned to his native Russia and has split time between the KHL and MHL.
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