Jakub Vrana isn’t sure where he will be playing this season

   Will Caps’ prospect Jakub Vrana play in North America or Sweden this upcoming season? He isn’t quite sure on that himself  just yet. In an interview with Corren’s Per Bergsten he talks about his future, what the Capitals’ want him to improve, and what it’s like to talk to Alexander Ovechkin.  My translation is below.


 Linköpings HC’s talented player, Jakub Vrana, was drafted in the first round by the Washington Capitals this summer, Vrana’s rights are now owned by the NHL club, and in September he is going “over there,” to, if possible, fight for a spot in the best league in the world.

If he fails to make it, he has a return ticket to Linköping, and he will continue to play in the SHL.

“Of course I want to play in NHL. It’s up to the club to decide when they want me. If it’s not happening now, I will continue to develop, and hopefully go over next year instead,” said Jakub Vrana.


New Line

If nothing unexpected happens, Vrana will play his first game for the season with Linköping on Friday, in their first ever Champions League game against the Czech team Pardubice. As of the time of this article’s publication, the Washington Capitals hadn’t given  official permission for Vrana to play, but that is supposedly more of a formality.

Going by the last few practices, he will play on a line with Mattias Sjögren [Ed.note: Yes, it’s the same Mattias Sjögren that was part of the Capitals organization a few years back.] and the newly added Jacob Micflikier. The plan is, unlike last year, to play the talented Czech on one of the two top lines.

If he is still here, that is.


Jakub Vrana practicing with Linköping.   Photo Credit:  Peter Jigerström.

Jakub Vrana practicing with Linköping. Photo Credit: Peter Jigerström.


“I didn’t get to play all that much last season, but I learned a lot, and I feel more ready now. Everything moves faster and everyone is stronger.”

Have you received any demands or requests from Washington?

“Well, they of course want me to get a bit bigger. But that’s not always the most important thing.”

Getting a call from Ovechkin

To take a spot on a team with stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström will be tough, to say the least. If he can’t find a place on one of the top two units he’ll most likely stay another year in Linköping, and try to take another step in his development there.

“Whatever happens, it will be for the best,” says the 18-year old, who has a memory for life from attending the draft in Philadelphia.

“I had heard a lot about it, but I didn’t know what I should expect. It was an amazing feeling when I heard my name get called. I don’t think I ever have seen my mom that happy before,” said Jakub Vrana.

Right after, he received a congratulatory call from the teams Russian captain, Alexander Ovechkin.

“It was very cool that he called me. I hope to talk to him again soon.”

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Nicklas Bäckström is finally getting his Olympic Medal

According to Pro Hockey’s Editor in Chief, Linus Hugosson, Nicklas Bäckström will finally receive his Olympic silver medal. Bäckström was part of the Swedish team that finished second after Canada in the Sochi Olympics earlier this year.

He was one of the core players on the team but was prohibited from playing in the final in what he himself deemed to be the ”biggest game of his career” because he had slightly over the acceptable amount of Pseudoephedrine in his system.

On March 14 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled that a one game suspension was a sufficient punishment and that he would be awarded a silver medal along with the rest of the team.

He will receive the silver medal on August 28 in a ceremony that is taking place in his hometown Gävle, prior to a game between his old team Brynäs (the team that he played with just a few days ago) and the Stockholm based team Djurgården.

Read more about the ceremony here.


Caps’ D-prospect, Christian Djoos scored a goal in Brynäs’ preseason game tonight against  Almtuna. Brynäs won the game 5-2.

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Nicklas Bäckström: ”We are getting a fresh new start, and I think that we need that”

Nicklas Bäckström played in a scrimmage today with his old team Brynäs. After the game he talked to Gefle Dagblad’s Linus Norberg. I’ve translated part of the conversation below.

This is the third time you have been on ice this summer, how did it feel?

“It felt good. The tempo wasn’t too bad and the Brynäs players haven’t been on ice much either so I thought it was an ok game, actually, and lots of goals for the big crowd, too. All of us players appreciated the big crowd immensely.”

What can the team take away from a scrimmage like this? 

”I think it’s a mix between presenting the team and the new players and at the same time, Gävle has a lot of NHL players that got the opportunity to be part of the game, which was great fun. I think it’s good for the fans to see a scrimmage to start off the season.”


photo credit:  @DanielVenom14

photo credit: @DanielVenom14

There wasn’t a lot of physical play tonight, did you go at full speed tonight?

”I did that at least. I thought the tempo was good but, as you say, the physical play was maybe not there. It’s just the third time on ice for most of us so maybe we were a little bit rusty but I honestly thought it was a good scrimmage.

I think Brynäs will be a good team this year, they have a young team and they are hardworking so I’m curious to see how it will go for them this year. Hopefully it will turn out great.”

Nicklas Bäckström and Anders Lindbäck practicing on August 1.

Nicklas Bäckström and Anders Lindbäck practicing on August 1. (photo credit: Niklas Ehlin)

Nicklas is getting the inside scoop on Barry Trotz from Calle Järnkrok. (photo via http://josephineswordh.tumblr.com/)

Nicklas is getting the inside scoop on Barry Trotz from Calle Järnkrok. (photo via josephineswordh.tumblr.com)

(photo via josephineswordh.tumblr.com )

(photo via josephineswordh.tumblr.com

Team White and team Black are sharing the same locker room.  Photo Credit: Brynas.se

Team White and team Black are sharing the same locker room. photo credit: Brynas.se

With more than 5000 people in the crowd the autograph signing after the game lasted for quite a while. photo credit: Brynas.se

With more than 5000 people in the crowd the autograph signing after the game lasted for quite a while. photo credit: Brynas.se

How do you feel about the upcoming NHL season?

“It feels good actually. We have a lot of new additions to our organization and a new coach…all new coaches, really. And a new GM. It feels like we are getting a fresh new start, and I think that we need that. We are getting coaches that are more defensively oriented and I think that we need that.”

A few days ago, Bäckström talked to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordström about his summer. 

”I’m  going to Calgary at the beginning of August to attend my teammate Mike Green’s wedding”  

Nicklas Bäckström arrived home early in Sweden from the US this year because his team the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs. He has spent most of the time with his family at their summer home just outside of Gävle.

“We have been in Spain for a bit and right now I’m on a mountain hike [Ed.note: in Sylarna, Jämtland. Sylarna is located on the border between Sweden and Norway.]”

”I’m going to Calgary at the beginning of August to attend my teammate Mike Green’s wedding,” Bäckström said. Due to the wedding he will miss the annual charity games with Peter Forsberg’s and Markus Näslund’s IceBreakers that usually will make the biggest hockey stars cancel their vacation plans. (Ed. note: Bäckström will miss the IceBreakers games for the second straight year. Last year he was unable to participate because his girlfriend was pregnant and they had to leave to return to the US early).

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Nicklas Bäckström: ”I’m not going to miss any games”

According to expressen.se’s  long time NHL reporter Gunnar Nordström Nicklas Bäckström is not seriously hurt, and he will not miss any games. If everything  goes according to plan, Bäckström will be in the lineup when the Washington Capitals play their next game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Photo Credit:  Patrick McDermott

Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott


It was early in the second period of Tuesday night’s game against the LA Kings that Bäckström was on the receiving end of a big hit, from LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.  Bäckström didn’t return to play after the hit and according to the team he had suffered a upper-body injury.

Bäckström sent a text message to Expressen’s NHL reporter Gunnar Nordström on Wednesday morning, “I’m ok, it’s nothing serious. I’m not going to miss any games,” Bäckström told Nordström.

Update, March 27 17.43 pm (CET) 

Nicklas Bäckström took part in the team practice on Thursday morning and talked to the press afterwards, confirming what he told Gunnar Nordström the day before.





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Nicklas Bäckström on the Olympics and His New Life as a Dad

Today GD.se published a video interview with Nicklas Bäckström and Calle Johanssson,  conducted by Mittmedia’s Markus Bäckström on January 14th. My translation of the interview is below. 

What do you think about Washington Capitals season so far?

Backstrom: It has actually been a bit up and down, but we are in a playoff spot right now and hopefully we can stay there. We have had some rough stretches but hopefully we will play better in the second part of the season that starts now.

What do you think about your own game?

It’s been ok some of the time. I think we have played well on the power play, but the five on five play leaves something to be desired. Overall I’ve been ok but I can be a bit better, I think.

That’s downplaying it a bit. You are currently leading the team in scoring and are at ninth place in the league in scoring.

What can I say, we have had a good power play and half the points have come from that. I think that we can all play better at five on five, and that we can play much better as a team.

I talked to some of the reporters that watch you play every day and they think that you have had a fantastic season, and that it’s maybe your best season ever. What do you think about that?

Then I say that NHL is all about the stats. That’s the thing they look at, and of course the points are there but I think the play in itself, I think there are things that can be better.

Photo credit: Joel Marklund

Photo credit: Joel Marklund

How are you feeling about the Olympics?

It’s going to be so much fun and I’m super excited about the Olympics and the last time around in Vancouver was an amazing experience, even though we didn’t get past the quarterfinal. It’s such a huge event and I’m looking forward to it, we have a good team, and I think we will take some teams by surprise.

There has been some difference in opinion in Sweden among the experts about your participation in Sochi. Some have felt that you shouldn’t be on the team because you are not good enough to play on one of the first two lines. Kristian Huselius is one of the experts that thinks that you shouldn’t be one of the  two topline centers on the team.  What do think about that?  

I don’t really have much to say about it. He has his opinions and all people are entitled to their own opinions. I can’t really say much about it, it’s his opinion, what he thinks and feels about Tre Kronor’s Olympic team. It’s just fine by me, I honestly don’t care about that, I have other more important things to think about than what he thinks.

You don’t think that it’s a strange thing to say since you are the scoring leader among Swedish players ?

That’s not up to me to answer that. That’s up to other people.

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Calle Johansson

What do you have to say about Nicklas Bäckström’s season with the Capitals?

Calle Johansson: Unbelievably good. I don’t think a lot of people understands how much work Nicklas is doing every night. Everybody is just looking at the points he creates. He does score a lot, but he also takes on an incredibly big responsibility defensively. And he plays with players that maybe have freer roles, and it’s up to Nicklas to take on that extra defensive responsibility, and he is doing it superbly well.

Of course I knew before I got here that he was an incredible hockey player, but I’m almost more impressed now when I see him every day.

At home in Sweden all the talk is about Henrik Zetterberg, the Sedins, Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson and not very much about Nicklas.

Yes, that’s right. I think that’s typically Swedish, isn’t it?

Some guys get more attention than others, and once that started, that’s how it continues to be. Once it gets decided who is deserving of the press and the attention no one wants to break the pattern, and that’s a pity.

But the people that know hockey, know how good Nicklas is. And fortunately he isn’t exactly a person that seeks the attention either. But on the other hand, it would be nice if the average Joe understood how good he really is.

Do you think he is forgotten?

Yes, I  think you can say that. He is definitely underappreciated, except for the people that see him every day, those who play with him and against him. All the teams over here know how good he is. He isn’t underappreciated by them, it’s more the general public that does that.

Some experts, like Kristian Huselius, didn’t think that Nicklas should be included on the Olympic team.

Didn’t he think that Bäckström should be included? I don’t know if you could be called an “expert” if you don’t think that Nicklas Bäckström should be included on the Olympic team. That’s pretty much what I can say about that.

You think that he’s wrong?

Yes, from my perspective that’s wrong but I can’t decide what other people should think but I think it’s completely wrong. I don’t think Kristian really understands how good Nicklas is. He isn’t watching him every day.  I actually don’t think there’s any coach in any national team that wouldn’t include Nicklas on their roster.

How important do you think Nicklas will be for Tre Kronor in Sochi?

He is one of the top players on the team so he will be really important for the team. The thing that is so good about him is that…I can compare him to Zetterberg, that’s a great idea to compare the two because they are both two-way players. As I’ve been saying, Nicklas isn’t just a one-way player, he can take a defensive responsibility. He kills penalties  and he can play against the other team’s best players. He is a divinely gifted power play player. He can do it all, it must be a coach’s dream to have a guy like that on his team.

After watching all the Swedish NHL players every day, what do you think Sweden’s chances are in Sochi?

I think the Swedish team looks great. I’m not saying that they will win the gold for sure but I think that they have as good as a chance as the Canadian team, or Russia if people think that’s the team that should win, or the Americans. I definitely think that they are candidates to win the gold.

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Nicklas Bäckström

You became a dad in October, how is that going?

Bäckström: It’s been very exciting, incredibly fun and a bit of an adjustment. I live another life now but it’s been incredible. Both my girlfriend and daughter feel great, and she is growing every day. It’s an amazing thing to follow your own child develop.

Do you get any sleep at night?

Yes, I do. My girlfriend is nice enough to get up at night so I can sleep, especially on nights before games, when you need the extra rest.

And when do you take care of her?

Whenever I’m home I try to take care of everything so she can take some time off. I think we complete each other quite well, actually.

I saw on twitter that Adam Oates said that you should name your kid Adam?

He did? I think that was a joke. Everyone knows that you can’t name a girl Adam.

What did you name her?


Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Have you and Alexander Ovechkin talked a lot about the Olympics?

We haven’t talked much about it, yet. Though we have talked about Sochi the town, that they are building a lot of new buildings there, and about the security in Sochi and Russia. That’s about it. We haven’t started with the trash talk just yet, we have to focus on Washington first, but I’m sure it will come. It’s fun to play against your teammates.

You see a lot of Alexander Ovechkin jerseys around town.  He is what you call a franchise player over here and you are more in the shadows. How do you feel about that?

Ah, I view that as a good thing. I mean, his personality and everything he has done on the ice, few people have done what he has done. He is the face of Washington and he is the one the sells the most.

I don’t have a problem with being in the background, that’s a positive thing for me. I’m more that type of person that just comes to work and does my work, and I always try to give it 100%.  I honestly don’t need a lot of attention. I mean I don’t really mind talking to the media, for instance, but I don’t feel bad if I’m not in demand either.

That’s the type of person I am, and always have been, and will continue to be.

Do you think you get as much credit as you deserve considering the amount of points you have put up over here over the years? Back at home in Sweden all the talk is about Zetterberg, Sedins and Henrik Lundqvist.  

Um, that’s a hard question. Actually, I doesn’t really matter to me.

Why do you think it is like that, though?

I don’t know.  Maybe because they have been around longer. I really don’t know. It’s a hard question to answer. But they do deserve it. They are that good. They are really good hockey players.

But don’t you deserve that too?

I’m not the right person to answer that question. I mean I always try to give it my all and do the best I can. It  doesn’t matter if I get credit or not. The people I want to get credit from, I do get credit from anyway, and that’s what’s important  to me.

 Do you think that Tre Kronor can take home the gold in Sochi?

 I think we have a good chance at the gold. Russia and Canada are the favorites. But as always, five or six teams teams will have a chance to win it all.

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Photo Credit: Joel Marklund

Do you dare come back to Washington if you won the gold on Ovechkin’s home turf?

Yes, I would. The only thing that can’t happen is that he wins the gold.

That would be hard for you?

 Yeah, that would be really hard for me. But we will take it from him.

Who is the biggest star in Sochi?

Maybe Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.

Which Swedes do you think will medal in Sochi?  

Tre Kronor with one, and two medals for the skiers.

What sports besides hockey do you want to watch in Sochi?

Depending on what’s possible to get to with my schedule, I want to watch cross country skiing since I’ve never been to that type of competition before.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

My best Olympic memory is from Vancouver even though we didn’t make it past the quarterfinal. The whole thing, to be part of the Olympics, is amazing. It was a big moment in my life.

Which headline would you like to read about yourself after the Olympics?

“Bäckström wins the final in sudden death.”

On the pressure to win the Stanley Cup and past playoff failures  

It’s not like we talk in the room about the fact that we haven’t won in 40 years. It’s more that we come in every year and really try to win. We really want to win a Cup for the city.

I’m not sure it’s [the playoff failures] in our heads. But yes, maybe a little. But at the same time we don’t think about it a lot [during the season]. It’s more in the summer after the season is over that it wears on you.

I completely understand the fans’ frustration. As a player you always try to win and we know damn well that we are nothing without the fans. Of course you want to give back to the people that are paying a lot of money to come to the games.

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Gabriel Landeskog on his Second Season in the NHL

The young captain of the Colorado Avalanche, Gabriel Landeskog, is currently playing in the World Championships in his hometown of Stockholm. Landeskog has scored three goals in six games played so far.

Hockeysverige’s editor in chief Uffe Bodin interviewed Landeskog on video a few days ago. A translation of the interview is found below. 

About being the youngest captain for a struggling team:

”I learned a lot about myself and the team, and about leadership. When things are so up and down, it’s not easy to know how to deal with them as a captain. There were a lot of team meetings. A lot to learn about how to act like a captain, what to say and how to deal with some situations.  How to deal with the coach and how to be the go-between between the coach and the team. That is something you learn with time and I think I made a lot of progress in that regard in just 3-4 months time. I’m already looking forward to next year and hopefully I will learn just as much next year.”

About if things got messy for the team, with Jiggy’s comments and Ryan O’Reilly’s contract situation: 
”No, I wouldn’t say that, but when Jiggy (Jean-Sebastien Giguere) said that in the media after one of the games at the end, of course things got a bit messy. We had some team meetings to sort things out.”
”We on the team didn’t think the O’Reilly situation was that big of a deal. Everyone came to the training camp and nobody there talked about it. Of course we wanted him back as soon as possible but we realized the magnitude of the situation and that we had to play and win games without him.”

”It felt good to get him back, and by the time he got back, we had won as many games as we had lost. We had put ourselves in a decent situation by the time he got back. I don’t think the O’Reilly situation affected us as much as the fact that we were so much up and down during the season. That was the thing that made it a rough season.”

About his concussion:
”It was my first concussion and it was hard to get back after that. I went two weeks without doing anything at all. You can’t send messages to your parents, girlfriend or your friends or whomever.
Your eyes are light sensitive, and you get annoyed at every little thing. I mean if there was no milk in the fridge you get irritated about that. Really, it’s everything, that you can’t do anything, you can’t read books and you can’t watch TV, so it was really frustrating. Since I never been through it before I didn’t know how to handle it.
If you look at the physical side of things, you went two weeks without doing anything. If you look at how it is in the summer you never go more than 3-4 weeks without doing anything in the summer, and that’s the off season.
But this was during the season and I had to go two weeks without any symptoms. It was hard to get back into game shape under those circumstances, but I think I did a pretty good job with it.
I missed playing the game a lot of course. But it’s inevitable that after missing two weeks like that a lot of things are a little bit off and the timing isn’t what it should be. You have to play catch up and that is time you don’t have in a shortened season.”

Photo:  Michael Martin (nhl.com).

Photo: Michael Martin (nhl.com)
About having a kid named after him:
”Yeah, during warm-ups I saw a sign in the crowd that said that someone named their kid after me. It’s not a long time ago that I was a kid that looked up to NHL players, and now they name their kids after me. It’s pretty unreal. Things like that make you realize that you are in a special situation, that you have the ability to affect people’s lives like that. It’s pretty cool actually.”
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Another Golf post? Another Golf post

Just like last year, Nicklas Bäckström and Jacob Markström spent a day in late August taking part in a golf event in Göteborg, and this time, Marcus Johansson and Viktor Stålberg tagged along. Unlike last year, a month later they can still hit the golf course whenever they like due to the lockout.
Le sigh.

Photo Credit: MPC Stjärngolf

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